Offshore wind power boosts economy in Whitehaven, UK

A beautiful seaside town in one of the least economically productive parts of the UK has the potential to see its economy change with the installation of offshore wind farms. Whitehaven, located in Copeland near the Lake District, is hopeful the new green scheme can give them the boost they need, and local fishermen will benefit.

Copeland has been ranked among the worst in the UK in terms of labor productivity, with one in six children in the area living in relative poverty. Additionally, the town made headlines when the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years was approved, prompting a backlash from locals and activists.

However, the Collette Project, a £3bn proposal for a wind farm off the Cumbrian coast that would be partly owned by the local community, could turn things around for Whitehaven without any political baggage. The project aims to build a 1.2 GW wind farm with 80-100 turbines off the West Cumbrian coast.

If approved, it would be the first community-owned wind farm in England and could lead to green hydrogen and green steel production in the area, providing green jobs and infrastructure.

Local companies are cautiously optimistic about the potential impact of wind farms. However, they acknowledge that Whitehaven needs a cash injection to revitalize the town center as many shops have closed during the pandemic. Some industries, like the auto sector, have also been struggling.

Matt’s Bait and Tackle shop owner Matthew Waugh sees a niche benefit to his business. He believes that fish tend to swarm around wind turbines in the ocean because they offer food and a breeding ground. This could potentially lead to more business for local fishermen.

Although Copeland workers have seen a slight increase in their Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution per hour worked, it is still one of the lowest figures in the country. The government’s Department of Equalization, Housing and Communities is committed to spreading opportunity everywhere and investing in city centres. The goal is to empower local leaders by delegating more money and power.

The installation of offshore wind farms in Whitehaven has the potential to provide much-needed economic opportunity and job creation. It could also contribute to the overall sustainability and green transition in the area.

Daniel Hall