LEITH is in the running for a major jobs boost after one of Europe’s largest offshore wind energy firms announced plans to locate its UK turbine manufacturing site in Scotland.
French company Areva says the move will mean the creation of 750 jobs directly involved in manufacturing – with more in the supply chain.
It has not yet announced exactly where the site will be, but the Scottish Government said it would be in the Forth estuary, where the only two locations named in the government’s blueprint for offshore development are Leith and Methil in Fife. The jobs announcement was made during First Minister Alex Salmond’s visit to Paris yesterday.
The company signed a strategic agreement with Scottish Enterprise, outlining its intention to locate nacelle (turbine operation) and blade manufacturing facilities in Scotland.
Mr Salmond said: “This announcement provides a further boost to Scotland’s position as one of Europe’s key locations for offshore wind and takes us another significant step further in achieving our ambitious carbon reduction target.”
Luc Oursel, chief executive of Areva, said: “Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there.”
The location of additional turbine manufacturing in Scotland is seen as increasing the economic growth potential from renewable energy.
Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: “This announcement further demonstrates Scotland’s position as a leading contributor to the low carbon agenda and ambition to deliver safe and sustainable energy through advanced technology.
Areva opened its UK headquarters in Edinburgh’s George Street in March.
The same month it was announced Spanish energy giant Gamesa planned to build a production facility for wind turbine blades at Leith Docks, creating 800 skilled jobs and bringing an estimated £125 million of investment.
Today Edinburgh North and Leith Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm welcomed the prospect of a further boost.
He said: “It’s good news for jobs and good news for the environment. I’m very keen on offshore wind production starting in Leith. ”
A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “Areva is initially interested in exploring locations for its manufacturing operations in the nearby Forth Estuary region. We will be working with the company to identify suitable locations.”