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Labour accuses Tories of losing ‘golden opportunity’ for offshore energy

26 Mar 2024 4 minute read
An offshore wind farm

Martin Shipton

Labour has accused Conservative Ministers of squandering the “golden opportunity” of developing floating offshore wind in the UK, which will deliver cheaper energy bills and the jobs of the future.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens said the government’s support for the emerging technology was “narrow-minded” and “poorly run” as she visited the Port of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, which saw its bid to act as a hub for developing offshore wind technology rejected by the UK Government this week.

According to Labour, Conservative ministers have the opportunity to unlock investment in three floating wind farms this year, in Scotland, north England and the Celtic Sea. But research from RenewableUK has found that budget restrictions will likely mean only one of these projects will go ahead, stifling investment in the emerging sector that would lead to new jobs as well as cheaper bills.

The Crown Estate, which administers the seabed, estimates that up to 5,300 new jobs and up to £1.4bn could be generated for the UK economy by fully realising the opportunities in south Wales and the southwest of England.

Industry executives have also highlighted that the UK is lagging behind international competitors. A similar scheme in France had access to EU100bn (£85bn) and $1bn (£780m) in California.

Global leader

The UK is well positioned to become a global leader in floating wind technology, with the biggest project pipeline in the world of 37GW, one-fifth of the global pipeline. Labour has pledged to create a new publicly owned company – Great British Energy – to take back control of the energy system on behalf of the British people.

Labour has recently confirmed that Great British Energy will be given an ambitious initial capitalisation of £8.3bn in the next Parliament, to invest in clean homegrown power generation that can cut bills for families, create jobs across the UK, and end the UK’s energy insecurity under the Conservatives.

It will accelerate new nuclear and position Britain as a leader in technologies such as floating offshore wind and tidal. It will also partner with the private sector to accelerate the rollout of more mature renewable energy generation technologies such as wind and solar.

Ms Stevens said: “We have a golden opportunity to become a world leader in floating offshore wind, delivering cheaper bills and the jobs of the future.

“But the Conservative government is holding Wales back, with narrow-minded, poorly run investment schemes that leave us lagging behind international competitors.

“A UK Labour government will switch on GB Energy to invest in projects that can secure our lead in floating offshore wind, unlocking the potential jobs and investment that the Tories have left to languish.”

‘Huge blow’

Henry Tufnell, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire said: “The decision by the UK Tory Government to reject the bid by the Port of Milford Haven for a new green energy terminal in Pembroke Dock is a huge blow for communities across Pembrokeshire. It demonstrates the Tories’ short sightedness and lack of ambition for the future.

“We have the closest port to the Celtic Sea development, a heavy engineering skills-base and strong support from Floating Offshore Wind developers, but again we have been overlooked.
“A UK Labour government will take advantage of these new technologies to secure our energy supply, develop industry in the county and create good well-paid jobs.”

A UK Government source responded: “The UK Conservative government is investing across the length and breadth of Wales and is providing a record £18bn a year to the Welsh Government through the Block Grant – ensuring that Wales receives £1.20 of Barnett-based funding for every £1.00 per person of equivalent UK Government spending in England.

“In terms of Milford Haven, the wind turbines for FLOWMIS [the UK Government’s Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme] will be maintained there which will provide an economic boost to the area.

“While the UK Government is spreading prosperity, what has the Labour Welsh Government been doing for west Wales? All it has achieved is to impose a £33m default speed limit and is set to spend over £100m [over a period of years] on creating more politicians for the Welsh Parliament.”


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Nia James
Nia James
26 days ago

Wales is already energy sufficient – end of! What will happen is that the chimera of “thousands of green jobs” will be dangled in front of our eyes to allow more wind farms, offshore and onshore, and other half-baked schemes, with the money filtering into the pockets of the Crown Estate, the London Exchequer, or multinational businesses. Any benefits to Wales will be negligible. But, then again, all the world, and especially those east of Offa’s, know that we are a soft touch.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
26 days ago
Reply to  Nia James

What about being self sufficient in hospitals airports and a myriad of other things. When will we achieve that?

Nia James
Nia James
26 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

It all comes together in a package called independence, when we are able to prioritise ourselves and are not subject to decisions made elsewhere. Without that we are clutching at straws and waiting meekly for the next tap on the head for being a good doggy.

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  Nia James

Sorry, I jumped the gun before reading your response. I guess I would have made a comment along similar lines anyway.

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Silly question. A country with a good grip on its own natural resources can foster an array of industries that in turn generate income streams that can be used to fund better health, education, roads, rail etc etc even an airport if your vanity stretches to that. Nia’s complaint is that too much if not all of Wales’ current income streams go to fill coffers beyond our borders. That is a legitimate observation which does not call for a shallow response such as yours. Try harder next time.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
26 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

There is nothing silly or vain about the questions. We have to use English hospitals and airports that is factually true. Airports are not vanity projects only the obtuse would think that. Live in the real world not a pretend one where everything is Westminster’s fault.

Gareth
Gareth
25 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Hospitals and such cost money, check out the article where the UK Treasury are ignoring devolved Govs requests for meetings to discuss finances. They also cap what we are allowed to borrow and spend. We achieve when we are independent, and not while we are part of the present unequal set up.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
25 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Westminster’s fault when we get greater per capita spending than England on health. Your comment is a joke.

Gareth
Gareth
25 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

A study by the university of Sterling in 2013 found , that we would need 16% more health spend than England or Scotland due to health inequalities, at the time we received 2% more, that has risen at present to 5% more, these figures are from a Nuffield Trust article, but you obviously know better.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
26 days ago

True sentiments. However, after watering down the recommendations of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales (and Jo Stevens was one of the main protagonists in this), I don’t think we can possibly take the UK Labour Party seriously either.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
26 days ago

Will Jo Stevens publicly support the devolution of energy infrastructure and Crown Estates to Wales?

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
26 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

No is the short answer

Jeff
Jeff
26 days ago

My bills at the moment are dictated by firms that want to screw the customer for every penny. Until that funding model is removed, we will still have high bills no matter who builds the wind mills.

hdavies15
hdavies15
26 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Screwing the paying customer is the preferred “game” of big corporates and their sidekicks in government.

Gareth
Gareth
25 days ago

Well, so much for the ” Celtic freeport of Milford Haven and NPT ” that was supposed to be the generator of 16 thousand jobs, and bring £5.5 billion into the local economy, while providing green energy. Just a load of Tory cac, as per usual.

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