A CAMPAIGN group is calling on the Government to protect Hartlepool’s burgeoning wind energy market.
Energi Coast, the 22-strong group of companies including town firms Able UK, JDR Cables, Heerema Hartlepool and Tata Steel in Hartlepool, is fighting to secure a proportion of the £1bn global market in renewable energy.
Members have urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to make offshore wind a priority in tomorrow’s Budget.
They fear that any changes to subsidies received by the industry will put further pressure on the sector which is at a critical stage in its development.
Opponents of the offshore wind sector are calling on the Chancellor to save money by cutting subsidies to the industry.
Alex Dawson, chairman of Energi Coast, said: “As an emerging industry we have been made an easy target, but subsidies are a tried and tested practice for the energy sector. No energy sector has developed without subsidy, be they direct transfer, preferential tax treatments or research and development intervention.
“The country’s economic challenges have also given anti-wind demonstrators a platform to voice their opposition. However, it is well worth noting that public support for offshore wind farms remains consistent – usually between 70 and 80 per cent approval.
“If the Government listens to reactionary opposition they could lose a sector that has the potential to be a jewel in the country’s industrial crown.”
Hartlepool is currently in a two-way battle to win a contract which would mean 1,000 wind energy jobs.
The town and Leith, in Edinburgh, are the contenders in the fight to persuade Madrid-based Gamesa to build a UK plant to make wind turbines.