Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has closed its wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight - the UK’s only such factory - following a protracted and often vituperative dispute with workers protesting against its closure.
In a statement, Vestas confirmed it would stop blade production, and 425 workers would be made redundant.
The RMT union, which represents many of the Vestas workers, had today organised a day of action to protest against the factory closure. A handful of staff had been protesting for 18 days at the Isle of Wight factory.
The company says that the factory was making blades for the US market, but production there had increased to negate any further operation in the UK.
An alternative plan to modify production to produce larger blades was abandoned: “Due to the current unfavourable market conditions caused by the credit crunch, weak currencies and lacking political support at a local level,” read a Vestas statement.
40 employees have found new employment within the Vestas research and development facility on the Isle of Wight, and a further 57 employees will work to assist the factory’s closure.
President of Vestas Blades, Ole Borup Jakobsen, said: “The decision to close the factory was very difficult, and we fully recognise the impact this will have on employees, their families and on the Isle of Wight. Nonetheless, this commercial decision was absolutely necessary to secure Vestas’ competitiveness and create a regional balance between production and the demand for wind turbines.
“We understand and have sympathy that employees are deeply affected by the closure. Throughout the consultation period, minimising the impact on employees and providing all the support we can in this situation has been our first and foremost priority.
“The employee representatives and the local factory management have worked closely with local job centres and career counsellors to ensure employees have received professional help to identify alternative career and employment opportunities,” he said.
Vestas was awarded a grant of £6M as a part of its low carbon plan last month. Vestas said it was: “Grateful to the UK government for its intended grant support to Vestas Technology UK Ltd.’s research and development centre on the Isle of Wight,” which it intends to expand.