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Hendry aims to maintain ports spending, but at reduced cost

Energy minister Charles Hendry has confirmed that the programme to improve Britain’s ports in anticipation of the third round of offshore wind will continue under the new coalition government, but costs will be examined closely.

Hendry stressed that the ports programme would have to ensure : “The best use of taxpayers’ money. We are committed to taking the work forward, but it will be handled within the network of the comprehensive spending review,” he said.

MPs had asked the government for increased infrastructure spend to support both the oil and gas industry and the offshore wind industry.

Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon, Malcolm Bruce, said: “Offshore oil and gas is in a mature phase where it has a more challenging and fragmented role than in the past, but, properly handled, will make a huge contribution to the UK’s energy supply, investment, balance of payments and jobs as well as to the UK’s deficit reduction and economic recovery.

“At the same time we have a growing new offshore renewable energy industry, sharing some of the same technologies and therefore offering diversification which is already heading for £2bn turnover and has the potential to grow - more than taking up any slack in the oil and gas sector.”

However, he said that the centre of both the UK oil and gas industry and offshore wind industries, Aberdeen, was in desperate need of investment to maintain its position.

“Compared with other energy centres around the world Aberdeen does not live up to its role as Europe’s Offshore Energy Capital. As one correspondent put it: “Rail connections are poor and, if anything, in decline. Road to the north is very poor. Air needs sustaining and key connections improved.”,” he said.

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