800 wind jobs may blow in from Spain

Gamesa chairman Jorge Calvet
Gamesa chairman Jorge Calvet

AS Hartlepool basks in Mediterranean temperatures, a Spanish wind turbine firm has announced it could be set to bring 800 new jobs to the town.

Spanish company Gamesa has revealed that Hartlepool is battling it out with the Scottish city of Dundee to secure a new multi-million pound factory.

A final decision is expected by the end of October.

But if Hartlepool is chosen then hundreds more jobs could be created in the supply chain.

Bosses at Gamesa, which opened an offshore wind technology centre near Glasgow earlier this week, hope to have the factory up and running by next year with the first turbines being produced by 2013.

Officials – who believe the industry will develop quickly – are still analysing both sites.

Speaking from the firm’s Madrid HQ, a Gamesa spokeswoman told the Mail: “I can confirm that we are currently analysing both sites, one in Dundee and one in Hartlepool.

“A decision is expected to be made at the end of October.”

Gamesa, which has 15 years experience in the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of wind turbines, has 30 factories across the world in Spain, China, the United States of America, India and Brazil.

The Spanish firm has close to 8,000 employees across the world.

Jorge Calvet, chief executive and chairman of Gamesa, was in Edinburgh this week addressing the Scottish Low-Carbon Investment Conference.

Mr Calvet said: “We are still in the process to identify where to put the manufacturing site.

“I believe the offshore wind industry will develop very quickly.

“Wherever we set up ourselves our aim is to look for local suppliers and help them to develop so they supply us.”

Gamesa already employs 40 staff at the £12.5m research and development centre near Glasgow and that could rise to 140 once the site is fully-operational.

With the proposed factory site, it would bring the total number of jobs created by Gamesa to the 1,000 mark.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said a number of organisations have been involved in trying to attract firms to town including PD Ports, Hartlepool Borough Council, Tees Valley Unlimited and Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Mayor Drummond, who has also spoken to Gamesa to promote what Hartlepool has to offer, said: “I have been saying for some time that we have been putting in place the ingredients to attract some of the biggest manufacturers to town.

“Receiving Enterprise Zone status has been a huge boost and certainly gives us an advantage over other places.

“It is encouraging that Hartlepool is on their shortlist and we are still in with a shout but there is a long way to go.

“Dundee is getting a lot of support from their government so they are big competition.”

Mayor Drummond said they would be highly-skilled jobs but said at this stage it is only a possibility.

He added: “We have been speaking to Gamesa and other companies for some time and this is the first one to go public, which is extremely positive.

“The benefits will be huge but I don’t want to get people’s hopes up at this stage.

“We have bought a ticket but we haven’t won the raffle yet.”

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “This is a positive and exciting development but we can’t crack open the bubbly just yet. There is a long way to go.”

Earlier this year, Energy minister Charles Hendry backed Hartlepool to become a hub for green energy during a whistle-stop tour of firms including Heerema Hartlepool, PD Ports and JDR Cable Systems.

At the time, Mr Hendry said: “Hartlepool has the potential to be a central part of the renewable energy infrastructure in this country.”

And the potential jobs boost comes just days before a visit from former Hartlepool MP Lord Peter Mandelson.

Lord Mandelson, who was Hartlepool MP from 1992-2004, will be visiting the new £53m Hartlepool College of Further Education this Monday to open the National Skills Academy of Environmental Technologies North East Hub.

The Skills Academy offers the chance for apprentices to work towards national occupational standards in sectors including engineering and construction.