| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) is a Chrome extension that eliminates the need for endless browser tabs. You can search all your online stuff without any extra effort. And Sidebar was #1 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.

View
 

It's “Money Where Mouth Is” time for UK Wind Turbine Manufacturing

Page history last edited by Dalinian 13 years ago

An Open Letter to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband MP

 

Solidarity with Vestas Workers from Climate Camp UK – Sun 19 Jul 09 – click for Solidarity Photo Report [photo attached to original Open Letter message]

 

‘Victory to the Vestas Workers Occupation’ Solidarity Demonstration @ Dept of Energy & Climate Change – Wed 22 Jul 09 click for Pix-&-Vidz Action Report [not in original Open Letter message]

 

Channel 4 News report on the occupation and Solidatity Demo [not in original Open Letter message]

 

Dear Mr Miliband,

 

As you are no doubt aware, there’s a stark and increasingly embarrassing contrast becoming evident between your ‘generally’ positive words in Parliament on the Renewable Energy Strategy/Low Carbon White Paper and the hellishly negative ‘specific’ facts-on-the-ground: 625 redundancies and plant closures at the Vestas Wind Systems turbine blade factories on the Isle of Wight and in Southampton. Headlines and video from national newspapers such as “Miliband promises more green jobs but Vestas wind turbine plant is closing” (1) really should be shaming your government into deeds not words, to ensure that such ecologically vital manufacturing capacity is NOT shut down merely because a particular capitalist enterprise chooses to decide it's unprofitable.

 

“Ultimately it was a commercial decision for Vestas. But the Renewable Energy Strategy is going to be a massive opportunity for manufacturers generally.”

~ A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (2)

 

Hmmm... so overseas wars and bankers bailouts get billions of pounds in government funding, but planet-saving plant closures get an anonymous spokesman hand-ringing and ruing “a commercial decision” – seems like your government’s practical priorities are more aligned to killing for capitalism rather than saving human civilisation and the biodiversity of our biosphere... or am I missing something, here?

 

Now that the Vestas Workers have begun an occupation of the factories against their closure, I suggest that you are facing a stark “Which Side Are You On?” moment (3). On our side, there are the Vestas Workers and their supporters across the country and around the world, struggling to defend their jobs, save human civilisation from catastrophic climate chaos, and ameliorate the anthropogenic mass extinction event that is decimating our biosphere (4). On the other side, there are the Vestas bosses, following the capitalist bean counters’ logic-of-profitability and scrapping planet-saving plant for a faster buck to be made elsewhere. Which side are you on, Ed, which side are you on?

 

“It’s crazy for Ed Miliband to be making statement after statement about green energy and green jobs and at the same time this factory is being closed. It would be a tiny step financially to keep this factory open, but it would be a huge statement about the government's commitment to the green economy. Just as they could not afford to let the banks fail, they can't afford to let this fail. It's about the history of humanity.”

~ Michael, a Vestas Worker in occupation of the Vestas Wind Systems factory in Newport, Isle of Wight (5)

 

In my opinion, nobody is better placed than YOU to argue for, win and implement the most achingly obvious solution – just nationalise the wind turbine manufacturing plant. If nationalisation was vital for Northern Rock and RBS – the Oyal Bank of Scotland (6) – how on Earth can it be any less vital for wind turbine factories?

 

“We have occupied our factory and call on the government to step in and nationalise it. We and many others believe it is essential that we continue to keep our factory open for our families and livelihoods, but also for the future of the planet. We call on Ed Miliband as the relevant minister to come to the island and tell us to our face why it makes sense for the government to launch a campaign to expand green energy at the same moment at the country’s only major wind turbine producer closes.”

~ Vestas Workers Speak Out (7)   

 

Please get real, put your money where your mouth is, and demonstrate how not only “the Renewable Energy Strategy is going to be a massive opportunity for manufacturers generally” but that your government is committed to securing existing UK green manufacturing capacity SPECIFICALLY. Such a move would surely go some way to rebuilding the recently shattered relationship between the public and the political classes, when such a common sense solution is militated for by a Miliband in government.

 

Thanks in advance for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Tim Dalinian Jones

 

 

PS: I’ve never written to a politician before, but the urgency of the issue, the request from Vestas Workers in occupation to do so, and the realism that people & planet need nationalisation action now have persuaded me to try something new – I hope your response won’t be disappointing.

 

[graphic attached to original Open Letter message]

 

Footnotes

 

(1)  “Miliband promises more green jobs but Vestas wind turbine plant is closing” by Ben Webster, Environment Editor, Times Online, Wed 15 Jul 09 – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6710815.ece 

 

(2)  A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change – quoted in (1)

 

(3)  “Which Side Are You On?” moment – here are two versions:

» Pete Seeger sings the original lyrics by Florence Reece – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iAIM02kv0g

» Billy Bragg sings his updated version – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8fCQ-Dctm8

 

(4)  The anthropogenic mass extinction event that is decimating our biosphere: see, eg, “Most biologists believe that we are at this moment at the beginning of a tremendously accelerated anthropogenic mass extinction. E.O. Wilson of Harvard, in The Future of Life (2002), estimates that at current rates of human disruption of the biosphere, one-half of all species of life will be extinct by 2100.” ~ Ongoing Holocene extinction – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction_event#Ongoing_Holocene_extinction

 

Source: Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing, at Global Warming, Climate Change, Greenhouse Effect

 

(5)  Michael, a Vestas Worker in occupation of the Vestas Wind Systems factory in Newport, Isle of Wight: quoted in “Staff occupy Isle of Wight wind turbine plant in protest against closure” by Matthew Weaver and Steven Morris, The Guardian, Tue 21 Jul 09 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/21/wind-turbine-factory-occupation

 

(6)  RBS: the Oyal Bank of Scotland – http://www.oyalbankofscotland.com

 

(7)  Vestas Workers Speak Out: from a statement released by the Vestas Workers in occupation at the wind turbine factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight, Tue 21 Jul 09 – http://savevestas.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/vestas-workers-speak-out/

 


 

Sent to Ed Miliband <ps.ed.miliband@decc.gsi.gov.uk>, CC Climate Change Organisations, BCC my 'Action Reports @ Indymedia Update Group' on Tue 21 Jul 09

 


 

On Thu 23 Jul 09, Ed Miliband broke his silence in a shamefully weak article in the Guardian, to which I posted a comment-in-reply:

 

Britain should rally round to protect our wind turbine industry

 

...but alas: "This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted"! Here's is that article by Ed, followed by my censored comment.

 

 

Seumas Milne draws attention to the issue of the Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight. But he misses the reality of the problems faced by Vestas and hence the real solutions.

The factory makes onshore wind turbine blades, not for Britain and Europe but a different-sized turbine designed for the United States. Currently, its turbines are shipped to the US, and it has now opened a US facility to serve that market.

For some months, we have worked with the company to understand what would be required for them to convert their factory to making onshore blades for the UK market. The issue for them was not subsidies from government but how they could get sufficient volumes of orders for the future.

Despite a 67% increase in offshore wind generation last year and 29% increase in onshore wind, they do not yet have sufficient orders. We need to grow the market further to help, and central to that, as Vestas have said, is planning.

Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Vestas, described Britain as "probably one of the most difficult places in the world to get permission". That is why the planning rules are being changed by the government from April next year. As we all know, the rules matter, but so does public oppositon or support.

We are unlikely to be a centre for onshore wind production, if up and down the country, and indeed on the Isle of Wight, onshore wind applications are consistently turned down. So we have to win a political argument that environmentally and industrially, onshore wind is part of the solution.

In the meantime, there must be a strategy for the Isle of Wight to do all we can to help and there is. Not just support for the workers who are losing their jobs, but a strategy to work with Vestas. They are keeping a prototype facility at the factory and we are currently considering an application from them for government help to test and develop offshore wind blades in a facility which would employ 150 people on the Isle of Wight initially and potentially more later.

Alongside this, we will invest £120m in offshore wind manufacturing and £60m in the marine industry. This is an active industrial strategy designed to create low carbon jobs throughout the country.

• Ed Miliband is secretary of state for climate change and energy

 

Here's my comment on the above article, which a Grauniad moderator saw fit to censor:

 

 

Dear, oh dear, oh dear – Climate Change Minister? FAIL!!!

 

Despite three decades advocating for direct action, I sent my first ever message to a minister on Tue 21 Jul 09, to Ed Miliband:

» pix-&-vidz version – It's “Money Where Mouth Is” time for UK Wind Turbine Manufacturing ...from which:

 

“Ultimately it was a commercial decision for Vestas. But the Renewable Energy Strategy is going to be a massive opportunity for manufacturers generally.”

~ A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change

 

Hmmm... so overseas wars and bankers bailouts get billions of pounds in government funding, but planet-saving plant closures get an anonymous spokesman hand-ringing and ruing “a commercial decision” – seems like your government’s practical priorities are more aligned to killing for capitalism rather than saving human civilisation and the biodiversity of our biosphere... or am I missing something, here?

 

Now that the Vestas Workers have begun an occupation of the factories against their closure, I suggest that you are facing a stark “Which Side Are You On?” moment. On our side, there are the Vestas Workers and their supporters across the country and around the world, struggling to defend their jobs, save human civilisation from catastrophic climate chaos, and ameliorate the anthropogenic mass extinction event that is decimating our biosphere. On the other side, there are the Vestas bosses, following the capitalist bean counters’ logic-of-profitability and scrapping planet-saving plant for a faster buck to be made elsewhere. Which side are you on, Ed, which side are you on?

 

“It’s crazy for Ed Miliband to be making statement after statement about green energy and green jobs and at the same time this factory is being closed. It would be a tiny step financially to keep this factory open, but it would be a huge statement about the government's commitment to the green economy. Just as they could not afford to let the banks fail, they can't afford to let this fail. It's about the history of humanity.”

~ Michael, a Vestas Worker in occupation of the Vestas Wind Systems factory in Newport, Isle of Wight

 

In my opinion, nobody is better placed than YOU to argue for, win and implement the most achingly obvious solution – just nationalise the wind turbine manufacturing plant. If nationalisation was vital for Northern Rock and RBS – the Oyal Bank of Scotland – how on Earth can it be any less vital for wind turbine factories?

 

“We have occupied our factory and call on the government to step in and nationalise it. We and many others believe it is essential that we continue to keep our factory open for our families and livelihoods, but also for the future of the planet. We call on Ed Miliband as the relevant minister to come to the island and tell us to our face why it makes sense for the government to launch a campaign to expand green energy at the same moment at the country’s only major wind turbine producer closes.”

~ Vestas Workers Speak Out

 

The following day, I recorded our ‘Victory to the Vestas Workers Occupation’ Solidarity Demonstration at the Department of Energy and Climate Change:

» pix – Vestas Occupation Solidarity Demo @ Indymedia London

» vidz – Vestas Occupation Solidarity Demo @ YouTube

 

...in which I graphically posed the question:

 

“Ed Milliband – The Man Who Nationalised UK Wind Turbine Manufacturing... or just another shoddy two-faced CLIMATE CRIMINAL? What’ll it be Ed?”

 

IMO, on the evidence of this article, he is sooooo heading for the latter. Guess we gotta step up the direct action a notch or two, then, eh?

 

Exactly why a Graudiad moderator chose to censor this comment, we may never know. Maybe this was a bit too strong for their liberal tates:

 

 


 

On Fri 24 Jul, I got this non-personal gereric round robin reply by email.

 

from:     Miliband, Ed (DECC) <Ed.Miliband@decc.gsi.gov.uk>

to:         [empty field]

date:     24 July 2009 15:09

subject: Thank you for your email

 

Thank you for your email about the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight.

 

I am very sorry for the people who are losing their jobs. When I met the Vestas management a few months ago, to see how we could help, and when I have spoken to them since then, I have wanted to do all I can to try to find a solution that could help the workforce.

 

Vestas have repeatedly told us that offers of government subsidy were not the issue for them. The factory makes a different sized blade to the ones used in Britain, so each one it makes is shipped to the US. They wanted to have their production in America to cut some of that journey.

 

As part of global reductions in their workforce, they are not at the current time converting the Isle of Wight site to make turbines for the British market.

 

Their biggest difficulty is with planning objections to onshore wind turbines, which have slowed down the growth in the UK market. That is why we are reforming the planning rules and are arguing strongly that people need to see climate change as a bigger threat to the countryside than the wind turbine.

 

Vestas are keeping a prototype facility at the factory on the Isle of Wight and we are currently considering an application from them for support of an offshore blade testing and development facility, which will employ 150 people initially, and is expected to grow in the future.

 

Government policy is having a positive effect. Next year alone, the renewable electricity industry will get £1 billion of support because of government action, and the amount of power from onshore wind grew by a third last year, and the amount of offshore wind power grew by 67% - so Britain now has more offshore wind power than any other country in the world.

 

It is to enhance the prospects for green jobs that we have made available 120 million pounds for offshore wind manufacture in the UK and 60 million pounds for marine development. Last week I visited a factory in Wales that employs 800 people and exports solar panels across Europe. The week before I saw a factory that is producing buses that produce fewer emissions, helping climate change and local air quality. Research suggest there could be half a million jobs in renewable energy by 2020.

 

I believe that to be ready to pursue these opportunities, we must invest in the skills, research, and the infrastructure to help clean energy companies grow – and we are making those investments.

 

There is government action for different industries and areas of the country, which you can read about at www.hmg.gov.uk/lowcarbon.

 

In the end, making sure the transition happens as quickly as possible will need government action, it will need dynamic companies, and it will also need us to win arguments around the country that renewable power should have a bigger role in the country’s future.

 

Thank you again for writing to me.

Ed Miliband

 

Given that the "to:" field is empty, I assume this is a generic reply to all, BCCed to those who emailled Ed about Vestas. I'll be composing a detailled reply in due course.

 

 

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.