Extreme swimmer, Anna Wardley is completing her 2012/13 Five Island Swim Challenge Continue reading
Kintyre has, of course, seen it all before with Vestas decamping and Skykon failing, Continue reading
The redoubtable Anna Wardley, who has set herself the challenge of a Five Island Swim, Continue reading
The Royal Navy has reported that the Fleet Flagship, HMS Ark Royal, back from a busy deployment in UK waters, rendezvoused with HMS Daring, the Type 45 Destroyer which recently left the Clyde for its new home port in Portsmouth.
The rendezvous – with ceremonial formalities exchanged by both ships – took place in the English Channel, South East of the Isle of Wight on Thursday 5th February. HMS Daring, which had been conducting gunnery and weapons engineering trials in the area, then showed off her amazing turn of speed and what the RN call ‘her awesome posture’.
The respective captains – Captain John Clink OBE, HMS Ark Royal’s Commanding Officer (CO), and HMS Daring’s CO, Captain Paul Bennett – are long term friends. During the rendezvous they communicated over VHF and enjoyed demonstrating their ships’ manoeuverability and capability.
Ark Royal’s photographer, LA(Phot) Macready took photographs of the occasion and then Captain Clink, eager for his Ship’s Company and guests to get a sight of the Royal Navy’s newest ship, took Ark Royal in two passes of Daring with Daring close in on his port side. The warships exercised together for 20 minutes before Ark Royal detahced to go into Portsmouth Naval Base.
Two Danish firms – EVO and Welcon – are in discussions with fellow Danish firm, Vestas, over taking over the wind turbine plant at Campbeltown from which Vestas is to decamp. In the best carpetbagging tradition, Vestas is off with a UK Government subsidy to transfer its operations to the Isle of Wight.
Saying it was losing money and that the technology of the turbines produced at Campbeltown was now obsolete, it announced its departure in August – along with plans to close the plant, making almost 100 workers there redundant.
After persistent and discreet negotiations by Enterprise Minister Jim Mather, Argyll’s MSP, Vestas agreed two months later to delay redundancies in order to enable the Kintyre site to continue as a going concern.
Vestas now says it hopes to reach agreement with EVO or Welcon on the future of the site.
As we reported recently, Lighthouse Caledonia, the aquaculture industry operator and Argyll employer with several salmon farms and processing plants, announced plans to close its plant at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. This would lose the area around 100 jobs in fish processing.
Local MP, Angus MacNeil has since met with Lighthouse Caledonia’s management where he was told that the design of the factory did not lend itself to modern processing techniques but that the firm would be interested in building a new plant at Arnish on the island. And there’s always an ‘if’. In this case the condition is the offer of a state funding package to support the proposed initiative.
Mr McNeil says that Highlands and Islands Enterprise should help the company but notes that if public funding is forthcoming, Lighthouse Caledonia must be required to commit to long-term employment in the area.
The recent Argyll experience in Campbeltown has been salutary if far from unusual. Vestas, the wind turbine manufacturer, announced that it was leaving that area at the end of a profitable public funding agreement and was off to the Isle of Wight on the back of a UK Government sweetener.
We’ve already reported on new Scottish Lib Dem Leader, Tavish Scott’s disappointment at having his photo opportunity in Bournemouth with Argyll favourite, the paddlesteamer Waverley, ruined. The ship’s no-show was due to being delayed after ‘failing to dock’ earlier at Worthing Pier. “Failing to dock’ can safely be translated as hammering into the pier, part of which remains closed to the public. This was on Monday 15th September.
Now it seems that the Waverley had also ‘failed to dock’ the day before – at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. On Sunday 14th, while returning passengers from a cruise to Weymouth and Bournemouth, the Waverley had a sharpish, unscheduled meeting with the Yarmouth pier. It too remains closed to visitors with part of its superstructure and a corner pier head pile damaged.
Before it left Argyll the Waverley paid its last visit to Tarbert on Loch Fyne, unable to dock there again with the current poor state of the pierhead there. Now, if only it had ‘failed to dock’ at Tarbert… a new pier there might have materialised sooner. The present one certainly wouldn’t withstand the sort of muscular docking failures the Waverley’s inflicting just now on the south coast of England.
Here’s a thought for the weekend. The Vestas company which plans to close it’s wind turbine manufacturing plant in Campbeltown in Kintyre has secured a sweet deal from the UK Government to relocate to the Isle of Wight. Is the Waverey Alex Salmond’s and Jim Mather’s secret agent of revenge? And she’s heading for the Thames after 25th September. And there’s a pier at Westminster Bridge…
A footnote to the story is that the Waverley did turn up at Bournemouth later on Monday after its engagement with Worthing pier – but too late for Tavish. The Scots Lib Dem Leader is probably counting his lucky stars. Imagine the press headlines. ‘Another ship with dodgy navigation and a history of failing to dock.’ Not what you’d want as you set out on the trail of Salmond netting.
It was revealed today that the Westminster Government has a variable price structure for firms adding power to the National Grid. Windfarms and other renewable energy producers in the Scottish Highlands and Islands are charged sixty pence per kilowatt generated – in a sliding scale that sees rival firms in London and the south east paid eight pence per kilowatt. The UK government insists that this asymmetrical charging makes no difference to the locations of firms developing renewable energy. The industry, however, has serious concerns that it deters producers from setting up in the Highlands and Islands, finding it considerably more profitable to establish themselves in the south east.
While Vestas is a company supplying not power but turbine towers to those who produce energy, there is a question over whether they were reading the runes in transferring from Campbeltown to major development in the Isle of Wight. They may see a much stronger market for turbine towers in the south and south east of England, fuelled by the establishment and expansion of renewable energy companies there, under the more favourable fiscal regime. Without changes in this matter, further doubt has to be cast on the viability of the abandoned plant at Campbeltown. Information we provide below indicates that the legal framework governing these charges was constructed from the start to allow such discretionary changes to be made.
The Executive Summary in a Government statement by the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Department (BERR) makes it clear that:
‘Section 185 of the Energy Act 2004 gives the Secretary of State the power to adjust transmission charges for renewable generators in a specified area of Great Britain. The power can be exercised if renewable development in that area would be likely to be deterred or hindered in a material respect by the level of transmission charges that would otherwise apply’. It also notes that:
‘The Energy Act power was taken to address concerns that the introduction of a GB-wide cost reflective charging regime for the transmission network on 1 April 2005 might hinder the development of renewable generation in North of Scotland. ‘ We will shortly ad the full BERR Stateent here but the first two paragraphs of the Executive Summary shape the territory:
“1. Section 185 of the Energy Act 2004 gives the Secretary of State the power to adjust transmission charges for renewable generators in a specified area of Great Britain. The power can be exercised if renewable
development in that area would be likely to be deterred or hindered in a material respect by the level of transmission charges that would otherwise apply.
2. The Energy Act power was taken to address concerns that the introduction of a GB-wide cost reflective charging regime for the transmission network on 1 April 2005 might hinder the development of renewable generation in North of Scotland. ”
See earlier news items on Vestas, Campbeltown and the role of the Westminster Government:
The announcement yesterday that Vestas was to close its subsidiary company’s operations in wind turbine tower manufacture at Campbeltown was accompanied by news that it is to shift its investment to a development plant in the Isle of Wight. In our earlier piece on this matter we drew attention to the fact that Vestas’s presence in Campbeltown was sweetened by significant public subsidy. The plant at Machrihanish was built for them with £11.9 million of public money, £3.6 million of which came from European funds. They were also given an additional £500,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise as a direct subsidy for training their workforce. In focusing on this issue we have, at the same time, asked if their move to the Isle of Wight is drawn by similar inducements. This question may not have been misplaced.
John Hutton, Energy Secretary in Westminster’s current Labour administration said, in conjunction with Vestas’s Press Release announcing their parallel out-and-in moves: “I am pleased that Vestas has recognised the huge investment opportunity that our plans for a dramatic increase in renewable energy present. The Isle of Wight is set to become a major hub for innovation and the manufacture of blades for some of the 7,000 new wind turbines needed to meet our ambitious targets.” He made no reference to the company’s move out of the fragile economy of Campbeltown. His statement would seem to suggest involvement of some kind in the move at UK Government level.
There are two issues to be pursued here.
- One is the short term economic uplift achievable by substantial public subsidy to private enterprise. Commercial interests can be virtually guaranteed to take the financial benefit for a contracted period and then pimp themselves to another bidder. They can have no commitment to a community, an area or a country. That is not their job. They keep their eyes single-mindedly on the prize of their own achievable maximum profit. That is their job.
- The second is the role of the UK Government – whose responsibility is to represent the interests of the entire nation, in being involved in a move advantaging the already privileged south of England at serious cost to the constantly struggling and fragile area of Kintyre in Scotland.
It cannot be said that Vestas’s simultaneous moves – leaving Campbeltown and into greater investment in the Isle of Wight – are unrelated. The company chose to relate them by communicating both in a single Press Release. This underlines that in the mind and strategy of the company, the moves are indeed related.