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Staff fight on at Vestas factory

A row over the closure of Britain’s only wind turbine factory has escalated this week after owner Vestas won a repossession order to clear its Isle of Wight plant of protesting staff.

Around 20 staff have been occupying the factory for the past fortnight in a protest over the closure. They are demanding that the government steps in to rescue the plant through nationalisation.

The Danish turbine manufacturer decided to close its production facility with the loss of 600 jobs in the week that the government announced a huge increase in wind power capability (NCE 23-30 July) and offered the company a £6M grant to its research department.

“Vestas has won the legal argument, but not the moral argument. The fight goes on.”

Bob Crow, RMT

RMT union general secretary Bob Crow said the next step would be decided by the Vestas workers, who could expect the union’s support: “Vestas has won the legal argument, but not the moral argument. The fight goes on,” he said.

A Vestas statement last week explained that turbines produced in northern Europe were destined for the US market, but production there had expanded, making the units produced in the UK surplus to requirements.

“Unfortunately, demand on the Northern European market cannot absorb the excess capacity,” said the statement.

Wasted potential

Vestas had originally intended to switch production from 40m-tall turbines suitable for the onshore market to 44m-tall turbines that could be used onshore or offshore.

Economist Gregor Czish, who is developing ideas for a pan-European renewable energy supergrid, blamed the situation on the UK government.

“The UK has failed to organise the conditions which are appropriate for a successful turbine company to operate, considering the wind potential in the UK,” said Czish.

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