Although the British government is about to begin an aggressive series of budget cuts in order to help the moribund national economy recover from the ongoing financial crisis, its seems foolish to remove port infrastructure funding destined to spur even greater growth in the lucrative offshore wind industry.
According to a report in today’s Guardian, as many as 60,000 green jobs could be in jeopardy if plans to build three factories to make offshore wind turbines are sacrificed by the government’s spending review.
Noting the previous government had pledged €68m to upgrade ports so they could handle the next generation of offshore wind turbines, the story said Siemens and General Electric have announced plans to invest €205m in two new UK manufacturing plants.
However, those plans are conditional on the necessary work on nearby ports, the story said, adding Mitsubishi is also interested in building a factory in Britain.
The Guardian says that the competition inviting ports to bid for the funds is likely to be scrapped even though officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are still trying to retain the funding. Parliamentarians are expected to debate the ports funding on Tuesday.
The story also noted that scrapping the ports competition will run counter to Prime Minister David Cameron’s earlier declaration that this “would be the greenest government ever.”
It is absolutely essential that the port infrastructure program go ahead if the UK’s tremendous offshore wind potential is to be fully realised.
In addition to creating 60,000 new jobs — a vitally important consideration during the continuing economic crisis — revitalized ports will spur on a surge in local emissions-free electricity, provide a steadily growing tax base for the government’s depleted coffers and be a catalyst for further research and development which can be used in other industries besides the offshore wind sector.
By axing the ports program, the future generation of offshore wind turbines destined for British waters would most likely be built in other countries, which won’t help UK economic recovery efforts.