Ministers urged to make Wales 'cradle' of 'green industrial revolution' with offshore wind farms

Offshore wind has been described as a “genuine game-changer for the south Wales economy" Credit: PA

Ministers have been urged to take a "hard line" to ensure offshore wind turbines are made in Wales.

During a debate in Westminster, Labour and Conservative MPs said wind power has the potential to be Wales' 21st Century version of the steel, coal and slate industries.

The Crown Estate, owned by the monarch but managed by the Government, owns the seabed around the UK and is currently considering bids off Wales' south west coast for building floating offshore wind turbines.

Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, told the House of Commons floating offshore wind is a “genuine game-changer for the south Wales economy and the labour market” and represents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Aberavon and south Wales and turn us into a green power superpower”.

Stephen Kinnock called for the Welsh Government to "seize" the opportunity offered by offshore wind Credit: PA

He added: “For much of the 19th and 20th Century Welsh coal, slate, copper and steel were known around the world. In the 21st Century, Wales could just as well be known for Flow (floating offshore wind) if the opportunity is seized.

“The prize is clear – the creation of a new long-term industry where the high-value manufacturing has ‘made in Wales’ firmly embossed on the tin.

“Wales was the cradle of the first industrial revolution, now let’s make it the cradle of the green industrial revolution.”

Former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said "big industrial economic opportunities don’t come along that often in Wales" Credit: PA

Former Conservative Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb argued: “What we can do with this new industry is not repeat the mistakes of the past.

“If we do this right we can create new domestic opportunities, we can create genuine supply chains here in the UK and in Wales and really see this new industry centred around ports like Port Talbot, Milford Haven.

“That is the prize in front of us that is worth capturing. Big industrial economic opportunities don’t come along that often in Wales. We have one now and we should seize it.”

Mr Kinnock challenged him, saying: “Just on this point about ensuring that we capture the benefits in Wales, does he agree with me that a very hard line should be taken with the Crown Estate to ensure that when the leasing is done for the seabed it contains very clear conditionality on the developer to ensure that the manufacturing, the supply chain, the jobs, the skills, stays in Wales so we do not make the tremendous mistakes, awful mistakes, that have been made in the past when we have allowed all of those supply chains to go overseas?”

Mr Crabb, who chairs the Welsh Affairs Committee, replied: “The way that I would describe it is we need to achieve alignment between the Crown Estate’s leasing auctions and the UK Government, the Treasury’s contracts for difference process, and the commitments that developers are making.

“He is exactly right, we do need to hold the feet to the fire, whether it is the developers, or the Crown Estate.

“But when companies make promises to create X number of jobs in his constituency, or my constituency we want to see those realised. That is the opportunity in front of us.”

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said the government is "very, very supportive" of offshore wind Credit: PA

Closing the debate, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said: “The Government is very, very supportive of this [floating offshore wind] and we’re looking forward to bringing four gigawatts by 2035 in the Celtic Sea.

“I have been engaging with the companies involved, I’ve engaged with the Crown Estate about that, about how quickly we can bring that forward.

“There will be an announcement shortly on Flowmis (Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme), I’m told it’s going to be very shortly but I’m not able to give a date on that.”