Exclusive: Fears grow jobs will be lost overseas

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The Independent Online

Tens of thousands of the 200,000 "green" jobs that the Coalition has vowed will be created from investment in wind farms, solar energy and biomass could end up overseas, after flaws were found in the Energy Act.

The legislation gained Royal Assent in December and includes measures designed to attract about £40bn of investment in renewable electricity sources by 2020, which could help slash household carbon emissions by 25 per cent.

But in a briefing note sent to MPs that The Independent has seen, GMB union leaders warned that there are no guarantees that supply chain work, such as building components for renewable projects, will go to UK-based employers.

Under the Government's plans, renewable energy developers – which could include distribution networks such as the National Grid – will only be allowed to go ahead with their larger projects if they have a supply chain plan approved by the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey. However, a government consultation has already stated these plans must address how renewable energy projects will support the global, rather than just British, supply chain.

The GMB argues the criteria against which the plans will be evaluated will not require that the Energy Secretary "consider at all whether the project's supply chain will create skills, jobs and opportunities for workers in the UK".

Although ensuring that work remains within the UK can be hard to get past the EU's open market rules, there can be flexibility over demands such as ensuring that major projects improve skills in the areas where they are located.

The GMB and Labour MPs are due to meet later this month to plan a "campaign of action" to pressure the Government into revising its proposed supply chain regulations. But Mr Davey told The Independent that the UK now has a "better supply chain strategy" than ever before.