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North Sea wind and hydrogen 'offer UK jobs bonanza'

Author: | Date created: 03/11/2020

North Sea wind and hydrogen 'offer UK jobs bonanza'

The UK North Sea could deliver £20bn a year in gross value added by 2050 from offshore wind and hydrogen leading to a net increase of 40,000 jobs, according to a new report by the Policy Exchange think-tank.

The report – 'Future of the North Sea' – said the increase in jobs would come, even after long-term decline in the North Sea oil and gas industry is included. It identifies six priorities for developing the North Sea.

They include coordination and marine planning to avoid over-crowding and inefficient uses of the seabed, more consistent and clearer environmental regulations, and new support and funding for low-carbon technologies, including hydrogen, floating wind and carbon capture and storage.


Other priorities identified are investment in low-carbon networks to support earlier investment in cables and pipelines, cross-border collaboration to help the UK work with other countries on joint projects such as interconnector cables after Brexit, and capturing economic benefits so that coastal communities gain from green energy projects.

A number of measures could deliver the priorities, the report said.

A new UK Seas Authority to help plan best use of marine resources, setting up a net zero triangle between Humberside, Leeds and Tyneside to focus onshore investment in skills, transport and housing in the region, creating a new ‘Minister for North Sea Development’ and greater powers for Metro Mayors to build political momentum in the region, and payments from wind farm operators going to local communities to ensure they benefit from hosting new infrastructure.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who wrote the foreword for the paper, said: “This report sets out some of the challenges and opportunities for the North Sea and coastal communities like mine in the Tees Valley.

“We know that development in the North Sea needs to be properly planned so that we can maximise the opportunities and jobs that come from net zero.

“It is also crucial that local people benefit from the transition to net zero, so I’m pleased to see that Policy Exchange has recommended community benefits funds for new offshore wind farms, among other investments that would help us to make the most of this economic boost.

“If we do not set in place the right policies and public investments then the North East of England and the east coast of Scotland will suffer economically as oil and gas declines, while the UK will miss its net zero target.”

Lead author of the paper Will Nicolle said: “The Prime Minister has said he wants the UK to be the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind power’.

“To achieve that, we’ll need a strategic approach in an increasingly crowded space. To reach net zero, we need new frameworks and funding for things like hydrogen and carbon capture.

“The North Sea is absolutely central to that whole mission. Our research shows there’s a huge prize in terms of new jobs and local economic development.

“This means that the North Sea could hold the key to Boris’ Levelling Up agenda too.”

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