Plans to turn former shipyards into off-shore wind turbine production centres could create nearly 60,000 jobs, the Liberal Democrats are to announce.
Party leader Nick Clegg said it was “scandalous” that 90% of the £1.75bn contract for a wind farm off the Kent coast was going abroad because the UK lacked the facilities to build the turbines.
He said his party’s proposals could create 57,000 new jobs and help cities which had been hit hardest by unemployment.
Under the plans, all port authorities on the North Sea and Irish Sea would be able to bid for a share of a £400M pot to convert seven shipyards, with towns like Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Middlesbrough, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow expected to be in the running.
Mr Clegg said that the scheme would also help the party meet their target of increasing the proportion of UK electricity that comes from renewables to 40% by 2020.
A further £100M would be invested in training and testing facilities, including at universities with specialist engineering research units, such as Loughborough, Durham and Newcastle.
Launching the plan during a visit to a former shipyard in Newcastle, the Lib Dem leader will say: “We need to make sure we come out of this recession with a rebalanced and green economy. Our plans would act as a huge boost for Britain’s budding wind industry and create nearly 60,000 jobs in many shipyard cities where unemployment is a huge problem.
“New off-shore turbines, with blades the size of the London Eye, need to be built and launched from modern docks, so we need to upgrade our shipyards to take advantage of this massive opportunity.”