This week local MSP Malcolm Chisholm met with the UK Head of wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa to discuss the firms’ plans to invest in a new manufacturing facility on Leith Docks. Below, Malcolm shares his thoughts after the meeting.
Renewable energy subsidies are very much in the news this week because of the apparent conflict in London between the Treasury and the Energy Department about subsidies for onshore wind . We are told that the Treasury wants very substantial reductions in support , perhaps of the order of 25 per cent, in opposition to the emerging consensus round a ten per cent cut.
This may not be directly relevant to offshore wind but does reflect the very powerful forces in the Conservative Party and right wing media which are against all forms of wind power. These forces must be vigorously challenged at every turn on both environmental and employment grounds.
The employment benefits of offshore wind were very much to the fore in my meeting with the UK head of Gamesa this week. I was very keen to know in detail how many jobs would result from the construction of offshore wind turbines at Leith Docks and for how long they would last.
I was told that the planning period was twenty five years so the jobs would remain for at least as long as that. When I asked about the number of jobs I was told 800 at Leith but there could be further related jobs for Scotland and the UK , depending on where components were manufactured.
At previous meetings with renewable energy experts I had learned that one of the problems currently is that the manufacture of wind turbine components takes place to a large extent outwith the UK but clearly there is scope for that to change . The figure of 800 jobs at Leith however is irrespective of such developments.
I have been positive about the Leith proposal since it was first announced and my enthusiasm was reinforced by the meeting. Wind Energy is unambiguously good for the environment, unlike Biomass which has provoked so much opposition in Leith over the last two or three years.
In contrast to Biomass, I do not believe that the construction of offshore wind turbines at Leith Docks will create local environmental or other problems. Residents near Leith Docks accept that they live near an industrial area but are understandably concerned about the nature of the industry and its effect on their lives.
Biomass would have been a disaster and certain much smaller scale businesses such as the scrap metal one at the foot of Constitution street also cause enormous problems for local residents ( an issue I am currently taking up). I do not believe that the construction of sheds for the manufacture of wind turbines would cause problems for local residents, particularly since the transportation would take place by sea.
I would of course welcome the views of local residents . I can be contacted on [email protected]