Prospect jointly hosted the event with the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and SERA, Labour’s environment campaign. The aim was to create a space where trade unionists, the renewables industry and environmental activists could discuss the future of low-carbon energy generation.
Prospect senior deputy general secretary Sue Ferns said that the event was timely coming in the wake of the global action about the climate crisis by young people and workers across the world.
Sue said Prospect welcomed the growth of the renewables sector, but warned that promises on the number of green jobs in the UK must be kept and that the industry should engage with unions.
Sue also talked about Prospect’s work to secure a Just Transition for energy workers, making sure that workers and communities are not left behind by the move towards a low-carbon economy.
Benj Sykes, co-chair of OWIC, talked about the rapid growth in offshore wind in recent years and the dramatic fall in price culminating in the latest auction round last week which saw record low prices for the technology.
He acknowledged that the industry had more to do, especially on issues like diversity, and said it would work with unions and others in the years ahead.
Labour shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead MP said the government’s piecemeal approach to new energy infrastructure had failed to deliver. He said Labour was offering a more comprehensive approach with renewables forming a key part of the future energy mix.
He also said the party was committed to a Just Transition and praised Prospect and other unions’ work in promoting this.
Finally, Jamie Driscoll, the newly elected Mayor of North of Tyne, made the case for a localised approach to delivering energy infrastructure and called for more powers to be devolved to local government to facilitate this.