HUNDREDS of new jobs could be created in Merseyside’s burgeoning off-shore wind farm industry after a £5m government grant.
The cash, allocated to Wirral council, will be used to improve port areas for the storage and assembly of turbines to use in Irish Sea offshore wind farm developments.
It will also provide grants to boost inward investment and to help companies expand into manufacturing key components.
The money is part the North West’s share of £1bn in grants from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which was created to boost the British economy.
Wirral council leader Phil Davies said it was “brilliant news” for local businesses, saying it had the potential to bring hundreds of jobs to the borough.
He said: “Our proximity to the Irish Sea makes Wirral ideally placed to capture a share of this growing market.
“Working alongside key partners at Cammell Laird will ensure that we have the best possible team in place to maximise the impact of this funding.”
John Syvret, chief executive of Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, said: “The emerging off-shore wind sector is very much a target market for us because it provides massive opportunities for growth.
“It will undoubtedly create new job opportunities both within the core business and throughout our supply chain.
“Having now established a marine base on site with [energy company] RWE to support the Gwynt y Mor off-shore wind farm, we look forward to the continuous improvement of key infrastructure which will enable us to bid and deliver large-scale projects in the Irish Sea.”
Last year Wirral council unsuccessfully applied to the government’s £200m technology and innovation fund to develop a national hub for off-shore renewable energy.
The council said this year’s successful bid should place the borough at the forefront of renewable energy enterprise.
The news came as permission for a new 19-turbine wind farm with the potential to generate enough power to supply the equivalent of 25,000 Cheshire homes was given consent by the department of energy and climate change.
The 57-megawatt wind farm developed by Peel Energy near Frodsham will generate enough power to supply the annual electricity needs of Frodsham, Helsby and Elton combined, with enough power left over to supply the equivalent of nearly a quarter of the needs of nearby Runcorn.
Business secretary Vince Cable, who visited Merseyside this week, said every £1 of RGF money was met by £5 or £6 of private investment.
The government has allocated £77m of RGF cash to 21 business projects in the North West which it said means 19,720 jobs “will be created or safeguarded”.
Speke-based pharmaceutical company Redx Pharma has received a grant to help expand and create 119 jobs.
Other beneficiaries include Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, Jaguar Land Rover in Halewood, Sci-Tech in Daresbury, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.