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Hartlepool campaigners reject national report on wind energy

Campaigners in Hartlepool today reacted to a national report which calls on the UK to seize the chance of massive wind energy investment.

Experts are predicting that 18 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy will be installed by 2020 by the UK wind market.

That’s up to 7,930 turbine towers and nearly 24,000 blades but campaigners say the UK needs to attract the companies to do it all.

Damien Wilson, the assistant director of regeneration at Hartlepool Borough Council, said there were hold-ups and that included the Government delaying on awarding the contracts for offshore wind energy development on the east coast.

He added: “We had Gamesa chomping at the bit and we have had quite a few others who have said Hartlepool is an offshore manufacturing facility waiting to happen.

“It is the best location on the east coast but no-one is going to make a commitment until the government awards the contracts.”

The Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap envisages the potential for 18 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind installed by 2020 – a significant increase from the 3.3GW installed so far.

The rest of Europe combined is expected to match this with another 18GW.

To install this, the report from renewable energy trade association Renewable UK showed Europe will need 64 major manufacturing facilities. Just over a third of these are already operational, and plans for a further third have been announced.

But fewer than a quarter of these are in the UK – even though the UK is planning to build half Europe’s offshore wind farm capacity between now and 2020.

Mr Wilson added: “We need to have the correct incentive for investors to make the decision to come here.”

Maria McCaffery, the chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. If we don’t seize it, the large scale offshore wind supply chain factories of the future, making the enormous blades, towers and foundations that we’ll need to retain the UK’s global lead in offshore wind, will be sited elsewhere.”.

RenewableUK’s annual Offshore Wind conference was being held in Manchester yesterday and today, and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Offshore wind is a British success story.”

He said the UK had installed more offshore wind installations than anywhere else in the world and the report showed the enormous potential of “this dynamic industry”.