Scotland renewables jobs boost as UK mired in uncertainty

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The announcement that Scotland could gain 750 renewables manufacturing jobs following investment from French firm Areva has been hailed as an example that Westminster must look to.
 
While First Minister Alex Salmond was preparing to announce these coming renewables manufacturing jobs, the former UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry was warning that the energy policy civil war in Westminster threatened to drive up energy bills.

Mr Hendry is quoted as warning that ongoing uncertainty over UK energy reforms “will drive up the costs to consumers, as it will cost more to finance the projects”.

The comments follow signs of a split in the UK coalition on energy policy with rows over wind farms and nuclear power. 

Comments by Tory pro-nuclear minister John Hayes have led to demands by Green campaign group Friends of the Earth that David Cameron deal with “dinosaurs within his party” who are “pursuing an anti-green agenda”, something David cameron has refused to do.

Yesterday, in a sign of growing confidence in Scotland’s renewables sector, Areva, one of Europe’s largest offshore wind energy players, confirmed that it will locate its UK turbine manufacturing site in Scotland.

The announcement, which was made during a visit to Paris by First Minister Alex Salmond, could create 750 jobs in Scotland from manufacturing and the supporting supply chain.

The company has signed a strategic agreement with Scottish Enterprise, outlining its intention to locate nacelle (turbine operation) and blade manufacturing facilities in Scotland.

Commenting, SNP MSP Mike Mackenzie who sits on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee said:

“[The] jobs announcement is a fantastic vote of confidence in Scotland and is testament to the work that is being done to secure investment in our renewables industry.

“The scale of the facility is hugely significant and is a significant development in the growth of Scotland’s renewables industry.

“While Scotland is leading the way in securing renewables investment and the many jobs that go with them, it is clear that Westminster has a lot of catching up to do.

“They must bring their current infighting to an end before the uncertainty over future energy policy drives investors away from the UK.  With a former minister warning of the damage their civil war is doing, it is long past time that their internal differences were settled.

“The major investment in Scotland that has been secured today shows that Westminster should look to the Scottish Government to see how a well-functioning energy policy should operate.”

The location of additional turbine manufacturing in Scotland will increase the economic growth potential from renewable energy.  Scotland’s renewable industry has attracted £2.8 billion capital investment since 2009.

Luc Oursel, CEO of Areva, said: “Areva’s industrial heritage and diverse portfolio has placed us firmly at the forefront of low carbon technological solutions. 

“Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there.  This new facility is part of Areva’s strategy to establish a manufacturing footprint that will cover the European market.”

First Minister Alex Salmond interviewed on Radio Scotland