Why Siemens really isn’t the answer.

The prospective contract with Siemens came up today in a pre-election radio debate. No doubt all councillors would rejoice if and when a contract may finally be signed.

On the face of it, it seems fantastic: a major wind turbine developer coming to Hull, meaning excellent prospects for the massive, planned, Humber Gateway wind project (and offshore electricity for 150% of Hull’s needs). And, of course, 10,000 jobs – all touted for this area.

But there are problems with this: the actual factory will be 7-800 jobs. There will be knock-on jobs in supply but that means jobs across the country rather than Hull and area. And, really, over 9000 of them?? I’d like to see the breakdown.

Indeed, the arguments against it are a good example of the differences between the three parties and the Greens. A world where countries (let alone cities) go supplicant to giant multinationals, for them to choose a particular location, to provide what is a public necessity, is not the sort of world the Green Party fights for.

But there already is a real alternative! Green councillors on Kirklees Council have led the way for years with massive loft and cavity insulation schemes across Huddersfield. Many cities have copied these including Hull. However, Kirklees Greens have also led on solar power, raising money and investing in solar panels for over 200 dwellings. All these efforts have created over 200 local jobs, saved ordinary people over £5 million on bills, and now mean that 5% of Britain’s solar energy is produced in Kirklees alone!

So if you’d like a local authority like that one – then get voting Green!

Given the prospects of oil decline on the one hand, and the effects of fossil fuels on the other, major projects like Humber Gateway are the sorts of things we should already have in any number of locations around the UK. But we don’t. So yes, there’s a gap.

But there are serious problems with multinationals and it’s precisely because of the power they have been allowed to develop over decades.

Take Vestas – a Danish wind turbine company. What Vestas did a couple of years ago – protested by many people including unions and the Green Party – was simply to up sticks and move. They closed their plant on the Isle of Wight, sacked over 500 workers, and moved to America where there is more investment in wind turbines!

There is no control over what multinationals do at local levels and Britain’s successive neo-liberal governments are among the worst in Europe for questioning any of it.

This is why the Green Party favours growth from the bottom up. It means local companies employing people from the area. They would be producing energy largely consumed in the area, and, being smaller companies, would keep the money in the area. It means a lot more control and, if we went for Council involvement as the Greens want, it would mean a growing measure of democratic control too.

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