Minister ‘giving £200m plant investor cold feet’

John Hayes MP
John Hayes MP
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David Cameron’s controversial new Energy Minister has been warned that the £200m turbine factory planned by Siemens in East Yorkshire could be lost to
 the UK if he persists with his outspoken public attacks on wind power.

Hull MP Alan Johnson, the former Home Secretary, told John Hayes he is creating a “big problem” for the city of Hull with his negativity since being promoted in September’s reshuffle.

Mr Hayes has been embroiled in controversy after repeatedly speaking out against his own Government’s policy on wind energy, stating he believes it has reached “the end of the road” in Britain.

He has been slapped down several times by his boss, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who insists Government support for wind farms has not changed, and around 20 backbench Tories signed a letter of protest to the Prime Minister in the wake of Mr Hayes’s comments that Britain has “enough” wind turbines.

But speaking at a meeting of Yorkshire MPs in Westminster last night, Labour veteran Mr Johnson told the Minister his repeated criticisms of onshore wind farms are giving potential investors in offshore turbines, such as Siemens, cold feet.

Siemens is planning a huge factory to build offshore wind turbines at the Port of Hull, and it has been hoped that if it pushes ahead it could also attract other major manufacturers to set up bases along the banks of the Humber.

But the firm has yet to sign off a final deal and last month it was among several manufacturers who wrote to the Government calling for an end to the uncertainty over the level of Treasury support which will be available to the offshore wind industry over the coming years.

“It’s creating a big problem,” Mr Johnson said. “The comments you made the other week, it doesn’t help to attract this huge investment here.

“Because I tell you what – they won’t have these problems in Denmark. and they won’t have them in Germany. Unless you can give a clear view about long-term energy policy, Siemens will invest elsewhere.”

Mr Hayes told MPs the certainty required by investors will be delivered in the Government’s long-awaited Energy Bill, due to be published next week.

“It’s not a question of my personal view,” he said. “It’s a question of what the Bill does, which is support different kinds of technologies.

“The purpose of the Bill is to create different (subsidy) prices around different technologies, to create the kind of certainty for investment that everyone agrees they need.”