Government £1bn funding for wind power too late for Vestas jobs

As a standoff between police and protesters occupying the Vestas wind turbine factory moves into its second week the government has announced more than £1bn of funding for the wind power industry.

About 600 workers at the site will lose their job at the end of this week and they’ve been occupying the factory to draw attention to their situation.

The group called on the government to nationalise the factory, the UK’s only significant wind farm manufacturer, however this appears unlikely despite backing from a number of environmental groups.

Instead the £1bn of funding will, the government stated, give £6m to Vestas’ Technology UK research and development centre on the Isle of Wight.

However, the Danish firm has already stated it intends to keep the centre open and the announcement will not help protesters who have occupied the site and called on the Government to nationalise it.

Supporters tried to get food to the protesters, who are backed by a number of environmental groups, at the weekend but the action was stopped by Hampshire police who made three arrests.

A spokesman for the Campaign Against Climate Change, who last week protested outside the Department for Climate Change calling in support of the workers, said the government has done a ‘pretty poor’ job since it was elected in 1997 on promoting wind power.

He said: “It has been particularly badly organised and we are therefore behind leading countries like Germany and Denmark and in fact much of western Europe.

“A bottle next is down to resistance of planning permission for sites, the government should look at how this process can be improved and drive demand.”

The funding comes from three UK-based banks, RBS, Lloyds and BNP Paribas Fortis, yesterday (27 July) began working with the European Investment Bank (EIB), on a programme to lend up to £1bn to onshore wind farms over the next three years.

And, up to £10m of government grants for offshore wind technology development, both of which are part of the additional £4 billion of EIB lending to support UK energy projects announced in the budget earlier this year.

Energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, backed wind power and ignore the on-going protests at Vestas.

He said: “Earlier this month we laid out a transition plan to a low carbon economy that included a massive expansion of green wind energy.

“The European Investment Bank funds will help the building start on consented wind farms that could provide 1 gigawatt of electricity, enough to power more than half a million homes.

“The money for the development of offshore wind manufacturing will help us generate green jobs on top of our success as the leading country in the world for the generation of offshore wind.

“Alongside these proposals, we are reforming planning laws, finding new ways of working with local communities and are determined to persuade people that we need a significant increase in onshore wind as part of the UK’s future energy mix.

“That is essential for the generation of renewable energy and for Britain to have an industrial future in the production of onshore wind.”

Luke Walsh

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