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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
McConnell renews energy pledge
Wind farm
Vestas make turbines for wind farms
First Minister Jack McConnell has set out his vision for renewable energy after opening Scotland's first wind turbine factory.

Danish firm Vestas, world leaders in the manufacture of wind turbines, has located a new operation creating more than 100 jobs at Machrihanish, near Campbeltown.

The factory is a major boost for the isolated Kintyre Peninsula which has suffered a number of economic blows in recent years.

Mr McConnell announced plans, on Monday, to consult on increasing the amount of electricity generated in Scotland from renewable energy.

First Minister Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell: Cannot "rest on our laurels"

He is already committed to increasing the amount of Scottish electricity from renewable sources from 10% to 18% by 2010.

He is now consulting on a target of 30% by 2020.

Among the proposals being considered is a plan to create Europe's largest wind farm on the Hebridean island of Lewis.

If successful, 300 huge turbines will be constructed with the aim of generating 600 megawatts of power for the national grid.

UK firms Amec and British Energy are planning to invest 600m in the scheme and are carrying out a year-long feasibility study into cost, location and environmental impact.

The first minister opened the Kintyre wind turbine factory by "Rolling a Can" on the plate rolls before undertaking a tour of the facility with Vestas managing director Tom K Pedersen.

Inward investment

Mr McConnell said he wanted Scotland to be a world leader in renewable energy generation. He said despite the progress made it would be unwise to "rest on our laurels".

"I also want Scotland to become a centre for excellence in advancing the renewable energy technologies and scientific development."

A consultation paper, to be published before the end of May, would enable all interested parties to contribute to the executive's action plan, the first minister added.

"In taking the Scottish economy forward, we are focusing hard on science and workforce skills," he went on.

"That is right for Scottish companies, but also for those companies who want to come here to do business. We know that inward investors, like Vestas, are attracted to Scotland's well-trained workforce.

Economic boost

"That quality of workforce is available to inward investors across all of Scotland, rural as well as urban.

"My priorities are for all of Scotland, including rural communities like this one, and are targeted at those communities that have suffered economically."

Vestas Wind Systems has established its manufacturing centre at the former Royal Air Force base at Machrihanish.

Almost 10m of public money has gone into building the new factory.

Vestas has also invested 3m and employed around 100 people.
Wind farm
The venture will boost the local economy

It is the company's first factory in Europe outside Denmark and will use many of the skills employed in Campbeltown's former shipyard, which closed in 1997.

Last year, the closure of the Jaeger clothing factory in Campbeltown with the loss of 160 jobs, came as a body blow for an area where the unemployment rate has been well above the national average.

It suffered when the RAF withdrew from Machrihanish and the Campbeltown shipyard was closed.

The area's whisky distilleries and tourist industry have also witnessed a significant decline.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Scotland
Kintyre's wind of change
18 Jun 01 | Scotland
Turbines bring wind of change
14 Feb 02 | Scotland
Finnie's upbeat message on energy
18 Feb 02 | Scotland
McConnell delivers green pledge
26 Apr 01 | Scotland
160 jobs go at Jaeger factory
30 Apr 01 | Scotland
Kintyre fights jobs setbacks
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