Safeguarding the environment, boosting the economy

Trade association RenewableUK has confirmed that the amount of people working in the medium and large scale sectors of the UK wind energy industry has now exceeded 30,000 of which 50% are in direct full time positions.

This indicates an increase of more than 6,000 workers directly employed in key renewable energy roles in four years, rising from 9,000 in 2010.

These figures are included in Renewable UK’s recently released annual report “Wind Energy in the UK” as are those for indirect job such as supply components which have also increased since September 2013 to over 14,000 positions, up by 8%.

All in all this adds up to more than 30,000 people in the UK relying on wind energy for their livelihoods, mostly in engineering positions, and is increasing at a rate of over 2,000 every twelve months.

The annual study also revealed that new onshore wind developments brought in over £1.5 billion of investment in twelve months. Total offshore wind investment reached £1 billion. In addition, since the localisation of business rates for new onshore developments, wind farms in England now contribute of £5.5 million a year to local authority accounts.

RenewableUK are also launching a new campaign, assisted by Energy Secretary Ed Davey, called “Faces of Wind Energy” a multimedia initiative which aims to tell the individual stories of workers in the UK wind industry.

The intent is for the workers to explain in their own words how they are part of the UK’s green collar clean energy revolution whilst a new online career map detailing the different roles within the industry is to be launched including which qualifications and experience are necessary.

Mr Davey said: “The energy sector is powering Britain’s economic recovery – and the jobs created in the wind industry show why Britain’s the global number one for offshore wind capacity and investment.

“Our historic electricity reforms allow us to build on that success, supporting a diverse energy mix that promotes renewables alongside other low-carbon technologies to make sure that we’re keeping the lights on with secure, clean, home-grown electricity.”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said: “Nearly two and a half thousand people have joined the UK wind industry’s dynamic, highly motivated workforce over the last year. That’s a growth rate that most other sectors can only dream of – renewables is the employment engine of the future.

“The inspiring videos and photographs of the Faces of Wind Energy campaign, with back stories about individual workers’ personal commitments to tackling climate change, show the absolute determination of our workforce to clean up the way we generate electricity, to keep Britain’s lights on at the lowest possible cost.

“However, we still face numerous challenges. The growth of the most cost-effective of all renewable technologies, onshore wind, is threatened with extinction by the Conservatives misguided policy of ending all future support for it.

“The Tories are way out of step with the two-thirds majority of the public which consistently supports onshore wind. Politicians need to get behind the many thousands of people doing their bit to make onshore and offshore renewables a UK success story. Instead of standing in the way they should let the new faces of wind energy do their job for the sake of the nation.”

RenewableUK’s previous report “Working for a Green Britain” published in September 2013 showed that with supportive Government policy over 80,000 people could be working in the UK wind energy industry by 2023.

In local news new proposals are being made to potentially simplify the zoning system which currently surrounds the Eskdalemuir seismic monitoring station in the south of Scotland. At present there is a 10km exclusion zone and a 50km consultation zone for wind energy projects however the Scottish Government working group are proposing replacing both with a single 15km exclusion zone.

This could free up many potential sites through the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway regions as fears over the impact to the equipment which wind farms may have caused have now subsided. This has led to the MoD to revise its procedures and has led to the proposal of the more straightforward system.

At ILI Energy we believe that new wind turbine developments should be sited sensitively, taking into account all factors including visual and environmental impact. However we also strongly advocate the generation and use of clean energy and most of the people in the UK agree with us. By doing this we are safeguarding both the environment and skilled jobs and the positive effect it has on the country both economically and ecologically is enough to persuade the majority that it is the correct path to take.

The revised policy regarding the Eskdalemuir exclusion zone opens up new development areas in a region rich in natural resources for projects capable of delivering large quantities of clean renewable energy whilst at the same time supporting the economy both locally and nationally. The Government should take note; this is an opportunity to protect everyone’s future and should not be relinquished in favour of short term gains elsewhere.

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