New wind college project 'has not been forgotten'

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 11 Feb 2017

BUSINESS chiefs have "not forgotten" the campaign to see an offshore wind college built in the Humber in order to train youngsters from all over the country, MPs have been reassured.

Politicians from all parties have been lobbying to see a national wind college, which would train people up to work in the renewables industry in the North Sea, established along the "Energy Estuary" for a number of years.

It was knocked back by the Government in 2015 when the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was deemed to have missed its submission deadline but the idea was resurrected again last year.

During a meeting last March, ministers committed to stumping-up the cash for it as long as private investment was forthcoming from businesses in the region. But again, despite the issue being raised by MPs in Parliament during a debate in November, talk of on-the-ground support for the college went quiet.

Melanie Onn, MP for Great Grimsby, asked Humber LEP executive director Richard Kendall, when he visited Parliament on Tuesday, to explain why progress had been slow.

"There was a commitment from Government, and Martin Vickers (MP for Cleethorpes) and I worked with ministers to get that support," said Ms Onn.

"It seems to have fizzled out at the LEP end. I don't know if that's businesses not quite getting on board.

"Where is the impetus to drive up skills for an industry that is important in our area?" the Labour MP asked.

Mr Kendall, who had been explaining the work of LEPs to Yorkshire and Humber MPs, assured that the project was "not something we have forgotten".

"I think the reason the national college was turned down (in 2015) was that Government wasn't prepared to commit the funding – it had to come from industry," he said.

"We want to see the Humber become a centre of excellence where we train our own and bring others in for training.

"I don't know if whatever emerges will be a 'national college', as a I don't know if the Government will have moved on from that, but the idea is not something we have forgotten at all."

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Kendall said the establishment of the college remained a "priority" for the LEP. He told the Telegraph: "There's a lot of expertise in this already at Grimsby Institute, Catch and other organisations on the Humber, which we've supported to grow.

"For there to be extra facilities or institutions in addition to this, there has to be a clear business case and that depends on there being demand and commitment from industry. This is something that we continually review."

Mr Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, asked at the meeting what the future was for the North Killingholme enterprise zone, which brings with it tax benefits, now that the development of the Able site by Dong Energy had been ruled out.

Mr Kendall said the LEP continued to work to bring about a resolution for the site.

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