Government 'must back' offshore wind sector deal

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 11 Jun 2018

The Government must back a wind sector deal which sets out plans to power half of the country’s electricity by 2050.

That’s the message from the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, which has launched its blueprint for the future of the Humber region.

The LEP said the region could benefit even further from the offshore wind sector, as companies including Siemens Gamesa and Orsted continue to drive its growth.

Lord Haskins, chair of the LEP, said at the Future Summit: “In the next few months and years, we could either gain a lot of new business, or lose business.

“At the moment the supply chain is not strong enough, and competitive enough. We are faced by strong competition from countries such as Holland, and their Government have been very committed to offshore wind.

“If you are a supplier, and have a choice between the UK and Holland, you have a good idea where they are going to go.

“I think the Government needs to back the sector deal, and commit itself to the future of offshore wind.”

Today, five per cent of the country’s electricity is powered by offshore wind.

The plan is for that figure to rise to 35 per cent by 2030, and 50 per cent by 2050.

If the vision is achieved, by 2050 the offshore wind sector would employ 39,000 people, and hit more than £5bn of exports every year.

The LEP is also pushing for greater assembly and manufacturing activity in the Humber, whether it is wind turbines in Hull or trains in Goole.

It also wants to ensure the Humber ports play a bigger role in the country’s post-Brexit environment, and see the region’s docks take some of the strain from congested southern ports such as Dover.

“Road traffic is a problem, especially on the north side of the Humber,” Lord Haskins said.

“There has been substantial commitment to improve the road from the Humber Bridge to Beverley, but more needs to be done in the area.

“The region is also still in limbo with the possibility of a combined authority. I am in favour of this, and I think it makes perfect sense for the economy.”

The LEP’s blueprint also outlines the need for the region to continue to develop its digital and tech industry.

It also wants to see the region expand its research and development base, and create more jobs in the sector.

The LEP said investments from companies including RB, Smith & Nephew and Croda – totalling more than £200m – showed the Humber can deliver, but needs to keep pushing forwards.

Reaction came from three of the four local authorities.

Councillor Ray Oxby, Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “The Humber LEP has a vitally important role to play in ensuring that the full economic potential of the Humber is maximised. By working together we can help secure the best deal for the Humber region, for the business community and for local people. In North East Lincolnshire we’re reaping the benefits of the funding secured through the LEP with projects including the Stallingborough Enterprise Zone."

Councillor Stephen Parnaby OBE, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The Humber LEP annual review clearly demonstrates the benefits provided to local communities across the region when the public sector and private sector work closely together. The East Riding is continuing to see record levels of investment, from flood and transport infrastructure to business expansion and growth – providing new employment opportunities for local people and the completion of projects that have a positive impact on people’s day-to-day lives.”

Cllr Rob Waltham, Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “The Humber LEP have been instrumental in helping to support a massive transformation to our local economy to grow. North Lincolnshire has huge potential to grow and prosper, and we will continue to take full advantage of working with the Government, the Humber LEP and other partners. We have an exciting future post Brexit to negotiate a strong deal for our area and we intend to work with the LEP to deliver this.

“Through the funding received in the past year, we have been able to develop some fantastic projects. These include the Trent villages flood defence scheme to protect villages and to deliver housing growth, as well as funding for Normanby Hall Country Park, which has been used to develop this venue into one of the best attractions to visit in the Humber region.”

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