Floating offshore wind power could be Wales’ 21st century version of the steel, coal and slate industries if a “hard line” is taken with the Crown Estate, ministers have heard.
Labour and Tory MPs called on the Government to ensure past mistakes with offshore wind projects are not repeated, and to guarantee new turbines off the Welsh coast are made by UK-based companies.
The Crown Estate, a company owned by the monarch but managed by the Government, owns the seabed around the UK and is currently considering bids for building floating offshore wind turbines in the waters off Wales’ south-west coast.
He told MPs: “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 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.”
Tory former Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb earlier said: “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.”
Intervening, Mr Kinnock said: “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.”
Closing the debate, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said of floating offshore wind: “The Government is very, very supportive of this 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.”