Boris Johnson’s conference boast of massively boosting Britain’s offshore wind power has been dismissed as “Tory fantasy” by trade unions fighting to keep industry jobs in the UK.
Gary Cook of the GMB said the Prime Minister had to show “the colour of his money” if promises to make the UK the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” were to come true.
The PM is using a speech to the Tory faithful to announce a £160million investment to boost the UK’s renewables target from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts by 2030.
Cook said: “You would need to stand an offshore wind turbine in the seabed every day for the next ten years to fulfil that commitment, It is a fantasy.”
The GMB has fought a rearguard to try and keep jobs for existing Scottish offshore wind farms at local yards but seen fabrication jobs go abroad.
Cook, the Scottish regional officer of the GMB, said: “The infrastructure and our facilities are screaming our for investment but to achieve this you would need to scale up to a production line. You would need the entire £160 million just to invest in one yard, so this is not going to do it, billions are needed.”
“The only way to reach Johnson’s target is for the wholesale import of turbines as they currently do from China and Indonesia, that is not going to build a manufacturing base in the UK.”
He added: “There are the engineering skills in Scotland and the UK, hundreds of skilled engineers are being laid off. They could do that but it is a case of having the infrastructure on the sites, and the price of course.”
“I would love to see British steel and manufacturing in the supply chain but that comes art a cost. It is only when you have the economies of scale that you can borrow to invest in these places. you need orders for seven thousand windfarm jackets for that not the five or seven units, the crumbs from the table, that we are getting now.”
The GMB highlighted that the renewables cash is not the first green jobs bonanza that Johnson has failed to deliver on this year.
Cook said: “Johnson promised £5 billion for green buses earlier in the year, but Alexander Denis, who build electric buses, are laying of swathes of people. We’ve been urging the government, as has our sister union Unite, to bring that money forward and they’re sitting on it.”
“We have industries already there that need help. Let’s get these bus companies and yards going but we need to see the colour of the money to do that.”
Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Energy Secretary, said Johnson rarely delivers on his rhetoric.
The former Labour leader said: “The funding announced today spread over ten years is a drop in the ocean, and pales in comparison to the investment by France and Germany in green jobs.”
“The Government must urgently bring forward a genuinely ambitious green recovery that will create jobs now on the scale needed to meet the challenge of the climate emergency and unemployment crisis.”
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