I’ve been following the sit-in protests at the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight over the past few weeks. Not least because I’m heading to the Isle of Wight for Bestival on 10 September, and if it pisses it down, joining the protesters inside the factory may have meant a welcome rain shelter.
The story today is that the sitters-in have now left the turbine blade factory, after bailiffs obtained authorisation to enter and chuck them out.
I had not realised that, until almost exactly one year ago, Vestas had a blade factory in Campbeltown, Scotland. It closed the factory down, making 96 people redundant, because it said the factory was losing money. It would “invest in another plant in the Isle of Wight” instead.
I’m not sure how a factory there would be any more profitable than in Scotland, but it pumped time and effort into relocating….only to have to close one year on because of lack of demand for its product.
The frustrating thing is, Vestas as a global company is doing very well. In the US it has seen high demand, so it’s now increasing production of turbines over there. But demand in the UK and Europe has completely slumped.
Coming just a month after Miliband’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, in which he committed to building more wind farms and creating more green jobs, I am confused. I must be missing something. Why can’t Miliband order lots of nice, new turbines from Vestas, then everybody’s happy?
It seems the government will step in to save banks and car manufacturers in trouble, but won’t do anything to support the wind power industry it’s just pledged it will grow. Vestas says there is a lack of political will to get controversial wind farms up and running in the UK. “Investors take the path of least resistance and so will we – and that seems to be not in the UK at the moment,” said John Childs.
On the other hand, the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union says the DECC did offer Vestas a rescue package, but Vestas ‘kicked the legs’ from under it.
I’m not sure who to believe, but one thing’s for sure. With all protesting done and dusted, popping into the factory for a warm drink and to escape the rain at my music festival is no longer an option. Kagoules and wellies it is, then.