Green jobs protestors to fight on

Vestas protest outside Department for Energy and Climate Change
Vestas protest outside Department for Energy and Climate Change

By Alex Stevenson

Legal confusion handed a stay of execution to protestors at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, as debate rages about whether the government should step in.

The sit-in protest at Vestas' soon-to-close factory in the Isle of Wight could have been forced to an end by a court order this morning.

But attempts by the factory's management to secure an injunction at Newport county court ended in farce as the judge rejected their request.


The BBC reported the attempt failed because the papers should have been served to all protestors, rather than just to one individual, and because the earliest the papers should have been served was tomorrow.

Vestas will have another opportunity to seek an injunction next Tuesday. The protestors' continued presence at the sit-in will intensify campaigners' calls for the government to take action.

At a demonstration outside the Department for Energy and Climate Change in London last night protestors called for the government to nationalise the factory as the best way to save the jobs.

Oliver New, a member of the Rail and Maritime Union's executive, told politics.co.uk ministers could use the nationalised banks to provide the finance to keep the factory running.

"The department. are claiming they've got some commitment to green jobs, to alternative energy, and they're standing by while the only wind turbine factory in Britain is closing down, putting hundreds of people out of work on the Isle of Wight," he said.

"The government could easily take a stand by taking over the factory, by ensuring the factory continues.

"Instead of us continuing as taxpayers [to pay] towards the huge unemployment that would inevitably be created on the Isle of Wight, they could pay towards keeping that factory going."

Environmental campaigners are angered by the loss of jobs in the green economy.

Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Nick Rau stopped short of calling for nationalisation as he described the closure as an "absolute tragedy"

He said the government could have done more to keep wind turbine manufacturing jobs in the UK and called on ministers to set up a Green Infrastructure Bank to finance renewable energy industries.

"The UK has the best wind resources in the whole of Europe and we should be creating green energy jobs, not shedding them," he said.

And the Green party's London MEP Jean Lambert, also at the protest, pressed home the importance of wind turbines.

"Wind turbines are absolutely crucial for the future of Britain's energy mix, whether that's onshore or particularly offshore," she told politics.co.uk.

"This is absolutely essential and we're already behind so many other EU member states. We can't afford to drop further behind on this."

Vestas announced the job cut plans in April as part of plans to lay off around 1,900 employees in Britain and Denmark.

It remained upbeat about future prospects for investment in Britain, saying its commitments to "massive" investments in wind power would "have a positive influence on Vestas' possibilities of producing blades in Great Britain".

On Monday energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said it would allocate some funds to Vestas, awarding it £6 million to develop offshore wind technology.

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