Subsea Innovation host Sir Michael Fallon to discuss UK offshore wind

Left to right: Bill Scott (CEO Wilton Engineering), Sir Michael Fallon, Pierre Boyde (Managing Director Cable Installation & Trenching, Deep Ocean), Alasdair MacDonald (Chairman, Tekmar Group plc) who spoke at the supply chain event in Darlington

Former Energy Minister Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP has told a group of offshore wind supply chain companies the introduction of a Local Content Commissioner would help champion British industry in the sector.

Speaking at an event held at Subsea Innovation, part of Tekmar Group plc, in Darlington, Mr Fallon updated members of the North East of England offshore wind supply chain on the feedback and reaction to his report, ‘Winning Locally, Going Global’, from the industry and politicians.

In the report, which was commissioned by Wilton Engineering, Mr Fallon made a number of headline recommendations, including a new 60 percent target for UK content for offshore wind projects in British waters.

Sir Michael also concluded that expenditure on each wind farm development should be reported in a more transparent way that includes added-value in both jobs and local skills.

Since the report was published earlier this year, several recommendations have been progressed by government, most notably the need for a confirmed timetable for future licences and Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction rounds, which was announced by Energy Minister Claire Perry in July.

In addition to updating invited guests on the reaction to the report and its conclusions, Sir Michael also discussed the creation of a Local Content Commissioner to monitor and support UK industry in the application of the 60 percent target.

Sir Michael Fallon said: “Where I think there is more agreement is the need for better reporting of UK content, more transparency and external verification, which I hope will form part of the Sector Deal.

“But even if it is, it may not offer sufficient reassurance if the next Contract for Difference (CfD) auction turns out to be the most intense yet, with bid prices falling still further.

“There is a danger, therefore, that while the consumer will certainly benefit, British companies may lose out. So, I am attracted by the proposal for Local Supply Chain Commissioners who can properly champion local businesses in the supply chain and help monitor market entry for new SMEs.

“Local Commissioners need not bring another layer of regulation or bureaucracy. We already have equivalent commissioners for small businesses, for supermarkets and pub tenancies.

“They would enable companies in the supply chain to feel they had a referee, and one on the local pitch; developers might then be more cautious about brushing aside local tenders.”

Pierre Boyde, Managing Director Cable Installation & Trenching, DeepOcean, said: “Sir Michael’s report has highlighted the key issues facing the supply chain and delivered some positive proposals that can make a very real difference to the role British companies play in the offshore wind industry. This includes the Local Content Commissioner, which is a great idea that needs further exploration and discussion that we are keen to be part of.”