Exclusive: Region on verge of green energy jobs boost

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YORKSHIRE is on the verge of a massive jobs boost after the Government announced plans to pour extra public money into Britain’s booming offshore wind sector.

The Yorkshire Post understands that a deal to bring another major offshore turbine manufacturer to the region could be unveiled within days after Ministers announced they will hike the levels of subsidy available for offshore wind projects, funded by a cut for onshore wind farms.

Estimates suggest up to 10,000 jobs could be created across Yorkshire over the coming years if the region succeeds in positioning itself as a manufacturing hub for offshore turbines, based around the Humber estuary.

Siemens has already announced plans to open an offshore turbine factory at the Port of Hull, and Energy Secretary Ed Davey said this week he expected there to be “more good news” on the way.

The confirmation of the final level of subsidy available for offshore wind in today’s Autumn Statement – at a higher level than expected – should be the trigger for further major investment news in the days to come.

“Anything that creates further confidence in investing in the sector in the UK and the Humber is very welcome,” said Lord Haskins, chair of the Humber local enterprise partnership.

Speaking yesterday at Prime Minister Questions, where he was standing in for David Cameron, Nick Clegg said the announcement would make investing in the UK’s offshore wind sector “more attractive” for multinational firms, and reinforce the UK’s position as the “world leader” in the technology.

Chancellor George Osborne will unveil the rest of his latest spending plans in the annual Autumn Statement this morning.

Around 370,000 married people in the Yorkshire region will be handed a tax break worth £200 a year, as the Coalition finally delivers on its pledge to recognise marriage within the tax system.

Mr Osborne is also expected to cap next year’s rise in business rates at two per cent, rather than the 3.2 per cent they were due to rise based on September’s retail prices inflation rate.

He will announce plans to do away with car tax discs after 90 years, announcing they are no longer necessary for police enforcement of Vehicle Excise Duty.

Whitehall departments face more cuts as the Government attempts to save a further £3bn over the next three years. Unprotected budgets will face an extra 1.1 per cent reduction in day-to-day spending for 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The Chancellor will, however, confirm funding for the Liberal Democrats’ pledge of free school meals for all under-sevens, announced in September.

But a furious turf war broke out last night between Mr Clegg and Michael Gove’s Education Department over the announcement of a further £150m for schools, to help them bring their kitchens and dining rooms up to scratch.

Sources linked to the Department for Education (DfE) briefed reporters that Mr Clegg was planning to raid the schools ‘basic needs’ budget to fund the move when, in fact, the Treasury will be stumping up £70m, and the remaining £80m will come from an underspend in the school maintenance budget. Senior Liberal Democrat sources accused the DfE of “lying”.