Green Party blasts government for not supporting renewables

The Green Party has attacked the government for allowing the Vestas wind turbine facility on the Isle of Wight to shut down - saying the closure was symptomatic of the government's failure to support the renewables industry.

In a speech at the party's autumn conference in Hove late last week, deputy leader Adrian Ramsay said the UK was lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to renewable energy production and more must be done to support not only the production of new alternative energy production, but also the demand.

"This government has promised thousands of new jobs in green industries," said Ramsay. "And yet last month it failed to prevent the closure of the UK's main wind turbine factory."

In August, wind turbine specialist Vestas announced that it was closing its facility on the Isle of Wight with the loss of 650 jobs, although the company later said that it may have found other roles for about 100 of the workers. Vestas said it would consider investing in new production facilities in the UK as and when more stable demand for turbines is established.

Ramsay said the main reason for the closure was the lack of demand for renewable energy in the UK, prompted by the government's continued support for fossil fuels.

"Labour simply doesn't understand the policies we need if the UK is to lead on global issues such as climate change and trade justice," he said. "Along with Conservatives and Lib Dems, they are still blindly locked into the mindset of the global free market and cheap energy from fossil fuels."

The threat of closure of the Vestas plant initiated an 18-day sit-in by 11 workers. The company said it would consider the future of the employees involved.

"The UK has very favourable wind conditions, but the present market is not large enough to justify the required investment to convert the Isle of Wight factory to produce blades for the UK market," the company said. "Vestas is, as ever, ready to work with all relevant political parties to secure a long-term sustainable market for onshore wind power in the UK."

Also speaking at the Green Party's conference, which ran from 3 to 6 September, leader and MEP Caroline Lucas attacked the government for not engaging with the potential of new technologies to change society and combat climate change.

"We've got news for them: a transition to a post-carbon world doesn't have to be about sacrifice," said Lucas.

"It's about jobs, it's about a more equal society and it's about a way of life with the potential to be far more fulfilling than the turbo-charged consumerism which is peddled by politicians today."

Kicking off her speech, Lucas pointed to the Green Party's recent success in the European elections.

"I want to start with just one headline. The European election result in this city: Labour 15 per cent, Green Party 31 per cent. Welcome to Brighton and Hove! "

In July, the government announced that it will intervene directly to accelerate the rollout of renewable and low-carbon technologies as part of its wide-ranging Low Carbon Transition Plan. Under the plan, the government has said that 1.2 million people will be in "green jobs" by 2020.

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