Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 21 July 2008 16:02 UK

Minister predicts wind jobs boost

Offshore wind farm
Several offshore wind farms are planned for the North Sea

Up to 30,000 jobs and 3bn in new investment could result from an expansion in offshore wind farms in the North East, the government has said.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks made the prediction during a trip to an offshore research facility in Northumberland.

Mr Wicks was touring a plant in Blyth, where the world's largest wind turbine is being developed.

His comments came as a consortium was unveiled to bid for licences to build offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

Mr Wicks was visiting the Californian-owned Clipper Wind facility at the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) at Blyth.

'European hub'

He said: "The North East already has a wealth of skills and experience in the manufacturing sector to diversify into the green energy market.

"The region is a pioneer in offshore wind. Blyth was the location for the first wind turbines to be subject to the full force of the weather and waves in the North Sea.

"With our plans to increase the financial support for offshore wind, it is further evidence of our commitment to make the UK one of the most attractive places to invest in green energy."

Meanwhile, Banks Developments, Hainsford Developments and NaREC have formed Northumbria Offshore Wind Ltd (NOW), to bid for offshore licences for wind farms to be developed in the North Sea.

It is estimated around 3,000 extra offshore wind turbines will be needed to help the UK meet its target of 15% of total energy being generated from renewable sources by 2020.

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