Wind turbine factory may generate 700 new jobs

Hundreds of jobs are to be created under an £80 million investment in a new UK-based wind turbine facility, it was announced today.

The firm said it was exploring a number of sites on the East Coast and in the North East and was working closely with regional development agencies.

Peter Loscher, president and chief executive of Siemens, said: "With the new wind turbine production plant in the UK we're pushing ahead with our strategy of investments in attractive growth markets for eco-friendly technology.

"In the foreseeable future the wind power market in the UK will be characterised by major offshore projects, and we'll extend our market leadership with the new production plant."

Andreas Goss, Siemens' chief executive in the UK, said: "The UK Government has created a stable framework to attract inward investment in renewables and offshore wind power in particular.

"The competition for land development, announced in the Budget last week, gives us confidence that the appropriate UK port infrastructure can be made available to support our production plans.

"The new Siemens wind turbine factory will create around 700 new local jobs once it is in production, as well as additional indirect jobs in the supply chain.

"With the anticipated growth in the renewables market, there is potential for expansion of the facility in the future.

"This £80 million investment, plus additional investment in our UK infrastructure for renewables, will provide a much-needed economic boost for the region, as well as driving growth in the UK's innovative wind power industry."

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: "This is a vote of confidence from one of the foremost companies in the offshore wind sector, looking to set up a base in the UK.

"More proof that we're exploiting the great natural resource that we have and creating the right conditions to attract investment. Siemens' investment will help create jobs and help us meet our renewable energy targets."

Siemens said it was already investing in renewable skills development and research and development in renewable energy in the UK.

The company has established a new energy sector training centre in Newcastle upon Tyne and has located a "centre of competence" for offshore grid connections in Manchester.

Siemens has also established research and development centres for wind power at Keele and Sheffield Universities.

The new manufacturing facility will produce the next generation of turbines for offshore windfarms.

Today's announcement follows months of talks, including meetings at 10 Downing Street, and follows changes in the Budget last week which brought public grants for ports to build green manufacturing hubs.

American giant General Electric last week announced a similar initiative in Britain, with investment of £100 million, creating 2,000 jobs.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson said: "Siemens are a world leader in wind technology and this is a fantastic endorsement of the UK as a destination for renewable energy businesses.

"Siemens' plans will provide hundreds of manufacturing jobs and many more in the supply chain - confirming the UK as a world leader in offshore wind."

Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, said: "This is fantastic news - it shows that, as ministers set stronger policies for a green economy, businesses invest in the UK.

"But it should only be the beginning - the next Government must make the creation of a low-carbon future an urgent priority.

"Slashing energy waste and developing our huge renewable energy potential will generate tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help make the UK a world leader in fighting climate change."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, which campaigned against last year's closure of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, said: "This is welcome news for the economy and the environment.

"Britain should be at the forefront of developing renewable energy, and this is a welcome contrast to the short-sighted closure of Vestas.

"It makes sense for Vestas workers to be given first refusal on these new jobs, and RMT will be urging Siemens to do that."

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