Fact Check

Fact Check 8: Jobs lost in onshore wind


Read Full Fact report: How many jobs could be lost in onshore wind?

As someone who has lost their job as a result of the Government unpicking any support for renewables, I was itching to read this.  I came away feeling a tad underwhelmed to be honest.  Of course Full Fact rely on facts, and in reality, there’s no data to show any impacts so it can’t be anything other than inconclusive.

I’ve worked in the onshore wind industry for nearly 10 years, and know that the vast majority of the 11,000 employed within who still have jobs are not likely to have a job for much longer.  The other 8,000 jobs supporting the onshore wind supply chain are naturally going to fall away as well.

For me, the real disappointment is that this attack on onshore wind and small scale renewables decimates the smaller independent companies who develop and operate worthwhile projects the big guys aren’t interested in.  Not just developers like Airvolution, but manufacturers like Mabey Bridge in Chepstow who employed 120 people making turbine towers, that closed in September (they’re concentrating on bridges now).

Even if there was data to show it, would the 19,000 jobs in onshore wind receive a fraction of the attention those 1,700 jobs got from the Redcar steel plant closure?


Fact Check 7: The UK’s renewable energy target

View Full Fact report:  The UK’s renewable energy target

Blah blah blah, Renewable Energy Directive. Blah blah blah, binding EU targets. 

I think that’s what most people see when this is written about. It’s guaranteed to prompt a general sense of outrage when mentioned at public exhibitions for proposed wind farms.  But most people see the case for every country doing their fair share, and applaud some joined up thinking.

In a nutshell, EU countries have got targets for renewable generation, and ours is 15% of energy (which includes electricity, heat and transport) from renewables by 2020.  We’ve even got interim targets to make sure everyone’s on track as we reach 2020 (we’re on track so far, according to Full Fact).

But with four years left, and the carpet just ripped out from under renewables’ feet, can we keep up momentum?  Personally, I’d think “No”.  The European Commission has suggested that the UK is off track.

But what happens if we don’t hit the target?

The consequences are not really clear, and if they come, it would be a slow and costly beast for all involved.

It’s important for us, as residents of the UK, to insist our Government sticks to the target rather than wait for the long hand of the EC to take action.

In 2012, four member states (Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia) didn’t show legislation adequate to implement the policy, so the EC issued them with a warning letter giving 2 months to comply or they “may” face referral to the Court of Justice. It must have worked, because they did it.

Of course, if the UK leaves the EU then meeting these targets won’t be an issue for Government to worry about.

FACT CHECK 4: The Energy Bill and the Salisbury Convention

View Full Fact report: The Energy Bill and the Salisbury Convention

Every day is a school day – I didn’t know about the Salisbury convention, which basically says the House of Lords shouldn’t block something that was in a Government’s manifesto.

The penny drops…. This is why our Conservative MP’s keep insisting the Energy Bill shouldn’t have been a surprise to industry, because it was in their manifesto!  Ahhh….

Just something else to fight over in the big chambers when all we need is decent energy policy based on fact…

To find out more about the Salisbury Convention, this BBC clip explains it.

FACT CHECK 3: Is new nuclear energy cheaper and more reliable than new wind power?

View Full Fact report:  Is new nuclear energy cheaper and more reliable than new wind power?

George Osborne, who’s in charge of the country’s numbers, gets the facts wrong when he said wind is more expensive than nuclear!  I guess saying it makes it easier to justify Hinkley C and push onshore wind aside (but doesn’t make it true).

I think it’s only fair he is asked to correct what he said – will you ask him?  Tweet @George_Osborne or email: public.enquiries@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk  I’m not optimistic that he will but worth a shot – this is the whole point of this fact check – to ensure politicians are basing policy on the right facts.

Full Fact also looked at “reliability” of wind vs nuclear. This has generated a fair bit of feedback, and Full Fact say they will add additional points to the report if they think it adds to the findings.

FACT CHECK 2: The Conservative manifesto’s onshore wind pledge

View Full Fact report: The Conservative manifesto’s onshore wind pledge

I’m really pleased to see this picked up by Full Fact – Amber Rudd and other Conservative MP’s have insisted the measures in the Energy Bill shouldn’t have come as a surprise to industry.  Industry was well aware of the Conservative view towards onshore wind and knew an election victory for the Conservatives would result in additional challenges with planning and financial viability of some projects.

However, the scale of the changes was immense – one that cost me and many others our jobs, shook investor confidence and poured millions of pounds of investment in some really good projects down the drain.

FACT CHECK 1: How many Jobs in the UK Oil and Gas Industry?

View Full Fact report: How many jobs are supported by the UK’s Oil and Gas Industry?

As well as removing subsidy for onshore wind farms and putting decisions directly into community hands, the Energy Bill includes provisions to support North Sea Oil and Gas by setting up an Oil and Gas Authority.  Differing figures have been bandied around the House of Lords as to how many jobs they support.

Full Fact tell me they will be bringing out regular checks starting this week, so I’ve digested this one, and eagerly await the second.