Breezing to a bright future

A MASSIVE new strategy to develop the UK’s offshore wind energy market has been revealed – and the Government has highlighted Hartlepool as a major player.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched a campaign to keep the UK at the forefront of offshore wind energy.

It was backed up with a launch document which praises town firms JDR Cables and Heerema for already leading the way.

Mr Clegg revealed there would be £66m funding to improve the supply chain for offshore wind developments.

He said the sector could contribute £7billion to the economy and create 30,000 jobs by 2020.

The strategy also includes the creation of an organisation to attract inward investment to the UK, and developers who apply for subsidies must draw up a plan on how they will boost the supply chain.

Mr Clegg said: “As an island nation, and with our weather, the UK is ideally placed to make the most of offshore wind energy – you could say it was a technology designed for us.”

Tees Valley Unlimited’s managing director Stephen Catchpole said the area was well-placed to capitalise on the opportunities the new framework offers.

He said: “The capability of the sector within Tees Valley is reflected by the number of companies that have been name-checked in this vital industrial strategy.

The Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy highlights a number of Tees Valley companies including TAG Energy Solutions, in Billingham, and Heerema and JDR Cables, both in Hartlepool.

Mr Catchpole added: “The offshore wind sector simultaneously plays to our traditional strengths of engineering and offshore work and we have a range of companies that are not only ready and willing, but also highly capable of getting involved in the new opportunities that are materialising from the renewables industry.”

Mr Catchpole said the Tees Valley was already “ahead of the game” in preparation for wind energy development.

The industry body RenewableUK’s chief executive, Maria McCaffery, said the UK’s wind energy capacity has now reached just over 10 gigawatts and included the new Teesside Offshore Wind Farm, which was built at an operational hub at Hartlepool.

She said: “Although this is a significant achievement, we must maintain momentum to reach our full potential, with wind playing an increasingly significant role in our energy mix, thereby reducing our dependence on expensive and environmentally-damaging fossil fuels”.

JDR, based in Greenland Road in Hartlepool, makes subsea cables for industries such as offshore wind.

Its town plant was launched in July 2009 and it now employs around 160 people.

Heerema, also in Greenland Road, is working on platforms for the £1.4bn Cygnus gas exploration project.

More than 450 jobs have been secured through the contract, but Heerema is also involved in work for the offshore wind industry market.

l Mail view: Page 8