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Jeremy Cresswell: Trump – let’s roll up our sleeves and get on with it! UPDATED

Artists impression of the scale of the wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen that is being opposed by Donald Trump.
Artists impression of the scale of the wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen that is being opposed by Donald Trump.

As someone who was intimately involved with the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) project via Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm Ltd from its inception pre-Trump to achieving final consents last year, I of course applaud the Supreme Court’s decision.

However, leaving aside personal involvement during my time as chair of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, the Granite City and its business community absolutely need to get behind AREG/Vattenfall’s £240million test centre which, by the way, would also generate a substantial portion of local daily power needs.

The offshore industry’s back is to the wall. And if 2015 was bad, try 2016. Will it finally wake up and engage properly and fully with the offshore wind caucus?

It is, after all, a major and complementary business opportunity.

Will it finally understand the messages that were central to AREG when it was set up in the very early 2000s and, for that matter, the All-Energy show.

I warned the oil & gas supply chain (where relevant) back then and repeatedly since that, if it did not grasp a slice of the offshore renewables pie, others would take that business, which they by and large have.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been engagement or successes. But there has also been disappointment; but that’s something that goes with any industry, not least one that is still finding its feet.

The time has come to engage and to understand that offshore wind is already a £multi-billion North Sea enterprise … and indeed was even before COP 21.

£billions worth of major projects are consented; someone will get that work. Would you rather it was your firm, or a foreign company that gets the biz?

Do you really want such companies active on your doorstep? After all, some are quite likely to try and grab some oil & gas business from under your noses … undercut your rates.

I have warned about that too.
At the very recent Aberdeen City Deal Summit hosted by RGU, Ian Wood made no mention of renewables or other low carbon opportunities in his heavily oil & gas oriented presentation.

He failed to mention the £240million EOWDC among a list of future potential highlights for this city-region. I tackled him on it.

And if I think back, Wood was pretty lukewarm about AREG too, even though it leveraged valuable early activity and a huge EU grant towards the EOWDC into this region. Not a “Well done AREG” was forthcoming.

Someone who knows the economic ups and downs of this region intimately said of Wood’s failure to mention renewables and low carbon in his paper: “In my view it is Ian Wood pandering to SE to put the focus on renewables elsewhere in Scotland. I have warned them if they leave renewables out posterity could well look back at this in the same way we look at the Gaskin report today.”

For those of you who don’t know this bit of Aberdeen history, Gaskin was an Aberdeen University professor who was, in the mid 1960s, asked to assess the future of the North-east of Scotland. Published in 1969, the Gaskin Report completely misses the potential for North Sea oil & gas.

There is no use companies whingeing … as I have heard on many occasions … that all the windfarm activity is down south or in the Moray Firth, etc, etc. The supply chain in this town plays globally, so a bit of local renewables engagement a couple of hundred miles away or in the Irish Sea should not be beyond the wit of many.

Thanks to the Supreme Court decision and two prior determinations, it would seem that the road ahead for the EOWDC might at last be clear.

I can’t see Trump attempting to play the European Court of Human Rights card; not after all the much publicised rhetoric about Muslims and Mexicans during the current US presidential campaign.

I believe the project remains as relevant as it always has been. And I believe that maritime renewables present a great opportunity for the North-east business community to grasp.

I also have a message for Trump. You barge into our back yard, presume to tell us what we can and cannot do, and you hector and bully. That has to stop.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get on with two jobs … completing the golf project and building the EOWDC. They are NOT mutually exclusive.

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