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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Windfall of 40 jobs to maintain Barrow turbines

THE world’s most advanced windfarm was officially opened six miles from the Furness Coast last week.

Vattenfall’s 30-turbine Ormonde wind farm has been heralded as a ‘multi-million pound vote of confidence in Furness’.

The windfarm has created 40 full-time jobs in Barrow and an apprenticeship scheme is due to start this year training youngsters in the skills vital for maintaining and operating an efficient windfarm.

Steve Andrews, Vattenfall site manager in Barrow, said: “The wind industry is growing in this area.

“The priority is to be part of that journey.

“At a local level we employ 40 people in long-term jobs for the next 25 years.

“I think it’s really good for the area – it needs diversity.

“The potential of the industry locally will mean several hundred jobs over the next few years.

“At the moment there are quite a lot of local people, particularly young people, looking outside the area.

“All the local employers, particularly engineering firms, believe we have one of the greatest ranges of engineering expertise in the world.”

Two to three apprentices will be trained as wind turbine technicians, which will see them trained in three disciplines.

Mr Andrews said in the future the scheme could potentially grow.

MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock officially opened the windfarm, cutting a ribbon six-miles off the coast. He said: “This is a multi-million pound vote of confidence in Furness.

“It’s great that Vattenfall has provided around 40 long-term jobs in Furness.

“Vattenfall has not only responded to the challenge of renewable energy but they have also played a part in setting the challenge to the rest of the industry.

“They have provided lasting value in the form of providing long-term skilled jobs.”

At present Vattenfall workers are transferred to the site by a 45-minute boat ride but the company has applied for an aviation licence to try to speed up transit as well as helping to deal with potential emergencies.

Should the application be successful it will take around six minutes for workers to reach the turbines and workers will be lowered on to the cells to gain access for maintenance work.

Vattenfall’s chief executive, Øystein Løseth, opened the 30-turbine site pledging the company would remain a good neighbour to Furness.

He said: “Our experience is that the key to good business in renewable energy is not only economies of scale and high efficiency.

“Being successful in the renewable energy business—as well as in many other businesses — often comes down to being a good neighbour.

“For us, being a good neighbour is about respecting your neighbours, respecting the environment and wildlife and making the most of local knowledge and local skills.

“Local acceptance is the key to success in our business. As I have said, we have built this windfarm with significant support from UK business and workers.

“Over 800 British people were employed to help build the windfarm, a third of capital expenditure went to UK business and more than two thirds of the principal suppliers were British.”

Speaking to the Evening Mail, Mr Woodcock added: “Those of us who live on the coast of the Irish Sea can have nothing but admiration for those who have worked in often inhospitable conditions to build the 150 metre tall turbines in water up to 30 metres deep.

“And I want also to pay tribute to Vattenfall, who have shown a strong commitment to Barrow and Furness since they arrived here three years ago to start work on Ormonde.

“They have made many good friends here and demonstrated that they intend to be here for the long haul.

“If Furness is to thrive economically, it needs to be a place that can attract investment not just from across Britain, but from around the world, as we see here today courtesy of Vattenfall.

“So I’m very pleased that the £500m investment we see at Ormonde will lead to 40 permanent, high-skilled jobs based here in Barrow, to operate, maintain and manage the windfarm.”

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