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Gamesa gaffe puts wind up ministers

The port at Dundee was eventually deemed too small for Gamesa's plans.
The port at Dundee was eventually deemed too small for Gamesa's plans.

BLUNDERING GOVERNMENT ministers yesterday issued a report boasting about a £43 million investment that would create 300 jobs in Dundee more than a year after those plans were abandoned.

The embarrassing gaffe was contained in the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which was also seen and approved by Scottish Government energy minister Fergus Ewing.

His photograph and signature, alongside that of UK energy minister Ed Davey, was included on the ministerial foreword to the report.

Wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa had considered investing in Dundee but announced on December 2 2011 that it no longer considered the city suitable.

Four months later it confirmed its factory would be built at Leith instead.

Even more humiliatingly for both the energy ministers, the investment in Leith is discussed in the paragraph immediately preceding the one containing the erroneous information about Dundee.

The information about Dundee in the UK Renewable Energy Roadmap, published yesterday, was taken from a Scottish Government press release from January last year.

And, in another confusing twist, yesterday’s report is an update to a publication about renewable energy dating from July 2011 which had no mention of Gamesa, even though the company was intending to invest in Dundee at that time.

Their plans for Dundee were first announced by First Minister Alex Salmond but were dropped last year because Gamesa claimed there was not enough space at the port.

At the time, a Scottish Government spokesman said they remained optimistic there would be other significant investment in the renewable energy industry in Dundee.

But Labour councillor Richard McCready said he fears the city could lose out on further investment.

“It was quite clear when Gamesa decided to go to Leith, there would be no Gamesa spin-off for our city,” he said.

“This was followed by a memorandum of understanding signed by Scottish and Southern Energy and the city council to bring renewable investment to Dundee and we are still waiting.

“Whether the information contained within this report was an error or not, the message is clear when looking at renewable energy investment, the city council and the Scottish Government needs to act and act fast.

“We have a workforce ready to work and we have been promised jobs for some time. I urge the SNP to make good on their promises and deliver much-needed jobs for our city.”

A DECC spokeswoman said the error in yesterday’s report was “regrettable” but that she was confident Scotland will still benefit from investment in renewable energy.

She said: “There is regrettably some text which should not be in the UK Renewable Energy Roadmap update regarding Gamesa’s plans for offshore wind technology in Dundee.

“However, this shouldn’t detract from a key message in the document, that Scotland is a powerhouse for renewables in the UK.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman did not address why Mr Ewing had signed off on a report containing such a glaring error.

She said: “Scottish Ministers are keen that Scotland maximises the opportunities that are likely to arise from the manufacture and deployment activities relating to offshore renewables and Dundee is ideally-placed to become a key hub for the rapidly growing multi-billion pound offshore renewables industry.”

smorkis@thecourier.co.uk

jawilliamson@thecourier.co.uk

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