Vestas and the Port of Sheerness have abandoned plans to develop a 7MW turbine manufacturing facility on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

Vestas said that its commitment to development in both the off and onshore wind industries has not been affected by this decision. A Vestas spokesman commented ‘We will remain active across the two markets in the UK as they both continue to show considerable potential.’ The move will nevertheless be seen as a setback for the UK offshore wind industry, which despite being the largest offshore market in the world has few manufacturing facilities.

But Friends of the Earth said the news was a ‘dangerous warning’ that the UK govenment was on the ‘wrong path’ and it should radically reform the draft Energy Bill to deliver ‘clean, British energy’ and green jobs. FOE energy campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: ‘We need to be investing far more in clean British energy, and Gamesa and Vestas’ plans for wind turbine factories in the UK would create hundreds of jobs. The government is… failing to come up with a decent Energy Bill that supports renewables and gives investors certainty. Instead it is committing the country to a costly dash for gas that will bust carbon targets and keep the UK dependent on imported gas’.

RenewableUK expressed disappointment that Vestas will not be proceeding with plans to build a manufacturing facility in Sheerness, but stated that the prospects for offshore wind manufacturing and employment in the UK remain high. R-UK chief executive Maria McCaffery said: ‘Naturally we are disappointed with this decision, but as the world-leader in offshore wind, the UK remains an attractive place for manufacturers and members of the supply chain to have a base.’

Vestas had originally planned to start serial production of its next-generation machine at Sheerness in the first quarter of 2015. The company has been seeking potential partners for development of its offshore machine and said in recent results that it had ‘received inquiries’. But the company has not yet provided timelines, financial details or possible joint venture structures for any outside involvement.