Rebirth of British wind energy manufacturing starts in Wales

Rebirth of British wind energy manufacturing starts in Wales

- £38 million investment for wind tower factory
- 240 jobs to be created in Chepstow
- But ‘green collar’ jobs must be backed by deployment

BWEA Cymru has welcomed the announcement by engineering firm Mabey Bridge to invest £38 million in a Chepstow-based factory to build and paint wind turbine towers. The investment is expected to create 240 new skilled jobs in Monmouthshire. However, BWEA Cymru warned that the success of renewable technology manufacturing in Wales depends on onshore wind farms gaining planning permission.

Welcoming the announcement Head of BWEA Cymru, Llywelyn Rhys said: “This is exactly what the renewable energy industry and the Welsh Assembly Government have been hoping for – our own manufacturing plant that supplies the materials needed to drive the green energy revolution. This is wholly in line with the Welsh Government’s intention of creating a low carbon economy and generating green jobs. It is very good news for the Welsh manufacturing sector which has struggled during the economic downturn.”

BWEA Cymru has, however, warned that Wales must not squander the golden opportunity to establish wind energy manufacturing by continuing to frustrate planning consents for onshore wind farms. A recent study showed that the rate of planning determination for wind farms in Wales is slow, while the approval rate is patchy. During the last four years developers have had to wait an average of 21 months for decisions on planning applications. Wales is only 17% on its way to achieving its 2010 onshore wind energy targets.

BWEA Cymru Chairman John Woodruff said: “We need to see some consents for onshore projects in Wales in order to give the new factory a full order book and help Wales keep as much of the investment as possible. Wales has a growing pool of expertise which is already generating income from overseas and now we can add the Welsh talent for heavy industry into the mix. It is crucial that Wales grasps the planning nettle and starts a pipeline of consented wind farm projects feeding through to this fledgling manufacturing capability. Renewables can lead the way out of the credit crunch and create real jobs and energy security, as well as huge green benefits if planners get things moving.”

Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive said: “This factory heralds the rebirth of British wind energy manufacturing, and we are delighted that Wales is leading the way. BWEA hopes that this factory and the significant investment it represents will firmly establish the link between jobs, economic benefits and wind energy deployment in Wales. We have seen from our European neighbours that employment follows not just on the back of ambitious renewable energy targets, but on actual turbine installation rates. Wales has a tremendous wind resource and is uniquely poised to establish its own supply of renewable energy, securing thousands of ‘green collar’ jobs in the process. But, policy and decision makers must ensure that these two tasks unfold at the same time.”

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