Highlands & Islands

£70m Scottish government fund to aid offshore wind

Offshore wind turbines
Image caption The offshore wind industry could create 28,000 direct jobs in Scotland

A £70m fund has been set up by the Scottish government to help support the offshore wind industry over the next four years.

The money has been diverted from other priorities of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

It will be used to improve ports and help companies testing, manufacturing and supplying materials for turbines.

First Minister Alex Salmond unveiled the fund at the Renewable UK 2010 conference in Glasgow.

The Scottish government hopes the investment will help Scotland realise the potential of creating 28,000 direct jobs and generating £7.1bn for the economy over the next decade.

Ports and companies will be invited to bid for funding from the new National Renewables Infrastructure Fund.

In his announcement, Mr Salmond also repeated a call on the UK government to make money available for renewables projects from the Fossil Fuel Levy.

He said: "I'm pleased to welcome the renewables industry to Scotland because we are a nation with considerable natural and human resources and the political will needed to deliver a green energy revolution that can build sustainable economic recovery and reduce Europe's carbon emissions.

"The Scottish Parliament has condemned the UK government's refusal to give unrestricted access to Scotland's £191m Fossil Fuel Levy funds.

"Together with industry, we must and we will continue to press the Treasury to release these funds now due to Scotland."

Carbon emissions

Scottish Renewables described the fund as substantial.

Chief Executive Niall Stuart said: "This fund could be key to unlocking the thousands of jobs that offshore wind manufacturing could create in Scotland, and make all the difference between landing major inward investors and growing a strong Scottish supply chain or being left to watch opportunities being snapped up by other parts of the UK and Europe.

"With our skills base, infrastructure, and oil and gas offshore engineering expertise, Scotland is incredibly well placed to lead the development of this new sector."

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said the fund was a small step in the right direction, but said far more money would have to be spent.

He said: "If Scotland is to secure the opportunities that come from green jobs we'll need more than photo-ops and token sums from ministers - we need a fundamental shift in priorities towards a low carbon economy and away from the fossil fuel dead ends."

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