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Green energy companies to show off potential of Tyneside

A DELEGATION of renewable energy manufacturers are to lobby the Secretary of State amid concerns over the lack of incentives available to attract major firms to the North East.

A DELEGATION of renewable energy manufacturers are to lobby the Secretary of State amid concerns over the lack of incentives available to attract major firms to the North East.

Businesses forming the Energi Coast group say they are seeking to show MPs the jobs potential if more can be done to encourage major turbine producing firms to come to the region.

This time last year, in the run up to the Budget, the then energy secretary Chris Huhne said he was confident major firms would be heading to the banks of the River Tyne.

Mr Huhne denied the claims that it had become harder to attract big name firms to the region, citing Spanish energy firm Gamesa and GE as two companies looking to produce turbines in Tyneside.

Twelve months on and Gamesa has brought work to Scotland but nothing to Tyneside. It is understood talks about using Shepherd Offshore land or the former Swan Hunters yard now owned by North Tyneside Council reached difficulties over the inability of English locations to offer suitable incentives.

The Department for Energy has insisted there is help for the industry available, with parts of the region securing a new status as a Government-backed Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering.

Ministers granted enterprise zone status to sites along the North bank of the Tyne last year, with the final arrangements needed to complete the series of tax incentives due to be finalised in the coming month.

There has also been regional growth fund cash for infrastructure work to prepare sites for new firms.

Despite this, and the general increase in other offshore industry jobs, the biggest announcement for turbine manufacturing came last August when Clipper Windpower announced it would not be opening a factory in Tyneside.

Andrew Hodgson, chairman at industry body Subsea North East, said: “There is a lot happening here, we have a lot to offer, and I think maybe people have just had to adjust.

“We thought a lot was going to happen quicker than this, across the country, and now we can see it takes time.”

Mary Glindon, the North Tyneside MP, said there was a feeling that the Government had lost a sense of urgency around turbine manufacturing.

“If you look to say Germany where there are strong regional structures they are leading the way here,” she said.

The MP has raised the issue of support for the wider oil and gas industry, and says there are signs of success here, but added much of this is offset by wider tax increases against oil firms.

A Department for Energy spokesman said: “Just last week, it was announced that the operational centre of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult will be at Narec in Blyth, with a focus on offshore wind, tidal and wave power.

“This week the Offshore Wind Developers’ Forum confirmed its vision that the UK-based firms should provide over half the content of future wind farms.

“This sends a strong signal of the confidence developers have in the UK supply chain and reflects recent progress and announcements.

“This builds on the allocation of up to £60m to support major offshore wind manufacturing investments at English ports, and the Green Investment Bank, which will support a range of green sectors, including offshore wind.”



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