GMB Scotland calls for urgent action to seize wind power opportunities
Scotland must show far greater ambition and commitment to seize the economic opportunities of wind power, according to one of the country’s biggest trade unions.
GMB Scotland has written to energy secretary Neil Gray asking for urgent talks after warning more must be done to ensure the transition to renewable energy creates skilled jobs and supports communities.
The union fears the opportunity to increase the country’s manufacturing capacity during the transition from fossil fuels will be missed without more ambition and has called for a far-sighted industrial strategy to ensure wind turbines and other renewables infrastructure are built here.
Gray spent three days in Tokyo and Osaka last week to “take further, tangible steps to realise the economic benefits of Scotland’s position as a renewables powerhouse.”
In Japan, he announced Sumitomo Electric is to build a factory in the Highlands to produce cables to connect offshore wind farms but did not detail the number of jobs to be created.
Gary Cook, GMB Scotland’s senior organiser for engineering and manufacturing, said the announcement is welcome but that Scottish and UK ministers’ failure to create and protect more manufacturing jobs and supply chains during the transition to renewable energy has become a national embarrassment.
“Let’s hope the energy secretary’s trip to Japan was worthwhile but, on all past form, there is little reason for optimism,” he said.
He said recently announced plans for Berwick Bank, one of the world's biggest wind farms proposed off the coast of East Lothian, are only the latest to promise thousands of jobs in Scotland but added: “We are used to hearing a lot of promises but little detail. So exactly what jobs will be created here and how?
“More importantly, how many will be created in fabrication yards on the other side of the world.”
GMB Scotland is urging the Scottish Government to reconsider its opposition to nuclear power and says a mix of secure energy sources, including oil, gas, hydrogen, nuclear and renewables, is needed while the transition from fossil fuels continues.
It has now written to the energy secretary asking for an urgent meeting days after a US investment company committed £300m to redevelop Ardersier port near Inverness to bolster supply chain infrastructure and create a promised 3000 jobs.
Cook said that investment only hints at the scale of the opportunity for Scotland.
He added: “We need a new industrial strategy, an ambitious plan to build manufacturing, attract investment, secure infrastructure, increase training, and seize the opportunity.”
Contact: GMB Scotland Communications on 07738 486317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org