Ryeview – August 2009

Green promises blown away

John Clark writes…

First published: August 2009(2) – Gazette & Herald

Before the 2001 and 2005 General elections Labour made big green promises. John Prescott said there would be a reduction in traffic. If not he would resign. There wasn’t and he didn’t.

In recent weeks out have come the promises: more renewable energy; less Greenhouse Gases and more green jobs. Maybe there is an election coming up. What is the latest bucketful of greenwash? Climate Change Secretary, Ed Milliband, claims there will be huge investments in the renewable energy industries. The emphasis will be on wind energy. This would produce 600,000 new jobs. With perfect theatrical timing, a company on the Isle of Wight is going to cease production. Vestas is the major manufacturer of wind turbines in Britain. It employs 600 workers on the Isle of Wight, most of whom are going to be made redundant. 25 workers have started a ‘sit-in’. If they don’t win their campaign to keep the factory in production then the consequences will all be negative. The factory will close; the jobs will be lost; benefits will be paid to the redundant workers; tax income will be reduced not only from the workers but also from the company. All these are the opposite of the aims of the ministerial statement.

Meanwhile, Vestas blame ‘outsiders’ for the ‘sit-in’. An unbelievable position to take.

This is a transnational company – what could be more ‘outsider’?

The company plans to move its production to the US or China

When the financial world was in a similar crisis the government bailed out the banks. In fact British citizens paid out billions. Borrowing is still dear. The Fat Cats are still lining up their massive salaries and bonuses. There was no point in saving the banks if we then don’t use the financial world to do what is needed. The worlds, let alone Britain’s, first objective is to bring Greenhouse Gases under control. Wind turbine production is a perfect opportunity for the government to deliver its green agenda. It must take into public ownership part of the Vestas Company. If production was nationalised all the above negatives would be reversed.

This would not be the normal position for nationalisation. Usually it is a case of the public purse paying for the losses while the private purse collects the profits. In this case Vestas wind turbine production is a profitable concern. It has a busy order book and a massive potential as a result of the governments objective for wind energy.

What an opportunity for the government to show that this time it is serious about climate change. It could turn words into actions. The skilled workforce could continue to be employed making turbines. The turbines would in turn make clean electricity. Maybe the government lacks the nerve to be radical, leftwing and green.        The Labour government must deliver a solution. If not, I can see no reason to believe that the government will deliver the rest of its climate change policy. A very bleak outlook in prospect.

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