Page last updated at 20:14 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 21:14 UK

'Sit-in' turbine firm awarded 6m

Vestas protest
Workers inside the factory say they will stay for "as long as it takes"

More than £6m is to be awarded to a wind turbine firm's research centre on the Isle of Wight, despite its plans to cut 625 jobs and shut its factory.

The government grant allocated to Vestas Technology UK Ltd comes as 25 workers continue a sit-in at its plant.

Vestas Windsystems is making the redundancies at its Newport site at the end of July despite rising profits.

It said the domestic onshore wind turbine market was not big enough to sustain a factory in the UK.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband was met by Vestas protesters when he was in Oxford on Monday.

'Want to help'

He spent more than an hour talking to them and told the BBC: "I'm very sorry for the people who may be losing their jobs in the Isle of Wight.

It is obvious the government is saying one thing and then doing another
Jonathan Neale
Campaign against Climate Change

"We've announced £6m today to help Vestas build a research and development facility into offshore wind which should employ around 150 people.

"But the truth is, what they're telling us is that government money won't make the difference to Vestas.

"They don't have a big enough share of the market at the moment in onshore wind.

"We want to do all we can for the workers. We want to help them with retraining.

"What [the workers] said to me was that the biggest issue that they faced, the reason why Vestas wasn't winning the orders it needed to win, was because of planning applications being turned down for onshore wind.

"We can't be the centre for onshore wind manufacturing if all around the country people are saying: 'We don't want onshore wind'."

'Standard procedure'

Following the announcement of the grant, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "Terms and conditions are attached to the offer, which the company - in this case Vestas Technology UK Ltd - would then look at to see if they want to accept the grant.

Ed Miliband opening a wind farm in Kent
Ed Milliband opened a wind farm in Kent earlier this month

"If they do not accept these terms and conditions, then the money would be offered to another company."

She refused to directly comment on the what the conditions were but said they were "standard procedure".

The grant would include more than £3m of funding from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

A SEEDA spokeswoman said: "The company submitted its bid earlier this year for a research and development facility to focus on developing new wind energy products for the global market.

"The new centre will safeguard 100 and create a further 150 jobs on the island in the short term and may offer jobs to some workers from Vestas' closing manufacturing plant."

'Such a scandal'

RMT union leader Bob Crow said the planned redundancies at Vestas' Newport factory made "a mockery of the government's stated objectives on green employment and renewable energy".

His comments were supported by Jonathan Neale, from Campaign against Climate Change (CACC), who said: "It is such a scandal.

"It is obvious the government is saying one thing and then doing another."

A rally is planned outside the DECC in Whitehall Place, central London, on Tuesday.

The workers, who are not members of a union, began their sit-in protest on 20 July.

Vestas served them with court papers last week ahead of a hearing in Newport on Wednesday.

Earlier, Vestas told the BBC that even though demand for onshore wind was strong globally it made "more sense" to make turbines as close to the market as possible.

A total of five men have been arrested at the site of the action since Monday, police said.



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