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Nearly half of UK’s offshore wind capacity owned by state-owned foreign entities, analysis shows | Climate News

Nearly half of all the UK’s offshore wind capacity is owned by state-owned or majority state-owned foreign entities, according to new analysis exclusively shared with Sky News.

Denmark’s Orstead, which is majority owned by the Danish government, and Norway’s Equinor come top of the list of public entities with the largest stake in UK offshore wind power, at 20% and 9% respectively.

They are followed by state-owned organisations in Sweden, Italy, China and France, according to analysis by the Common Wealth think tank and provided exclusively to Sky News.

Common Wealth’s assessment of publicly available data from the Crown Estate, which owns and leases much of the seabed around this country, found that the UK is twelfth on the list, behind United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Germany, Japan and Malaysia.

In large part this is because the UK government only owns a small renewable energy company called Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, which is focused on research and innovation and holds a tiny percentage of capacity.

Director of Common Wealth Matthew Laurence said: “Public ownership of renewable power is already widespread in the North Sea – it just benefits other countries.

“It is time we correct that by creating a UK green energy generator: it would roll out clean power infrastructure faster, fairer, and more affordably than the status quo.”

Common Wealth’s report added that in 2021 alone, £2.5bn of energy bills paid by UK consumers went to foreign state-owned entities.

It also found that of the 58% of UK offshore wind capacity owned by private businesses, just a third are headquartered in the UK.

The largest private owners are Germany’s RWE, Scotland’s SSE, and Spain’s Iberdrola.

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The Trades Union Congress has also called for what it referred to as a “public energy champion” that would invest excess profits from the generation of electricity to cut bills and insulate homes.

Clean energy and climate change will be a key theme of this week’s Labour Party conference, although Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dropped plans to nationalise energy companies.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has spoken positively about wind and nuclear power but is resisting calls to expand a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies, has lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas in the UK, and is preparing to grant nearly 100 new licenses for drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea.

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UK’s biggest warship, HMS Prince of Wales, breaks down off south coast shortly after setting sail for US | UK News

The UK’s biggest warship has broken down off the south coast shortly after setting sail on what had been billed as a “landmark mission” to the United States.

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers, was experiencing an “emerging mechanical issue”, a spokesperson said. The problem is being investigated.

The £3bn carrier, which became fully operational only last year, is reportedly anchored south east of the Isle of Wight while the investigation is carried out.

“HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue,” the Royal Navy spokesperson said.

The problem was first reported by UK Defence Journal, an online news site focused on defence issues, which cited unconfirmed reports about damage to the starboard propeller shaft.

A second specialist news site, Navy Lookout, said the 65,000-tonne warship had suffered a “significant technical fault”.

“Should the issue prove to be serious it goes without saying that this is extremely unfortunate and not a good look for the RN [Royal Navy],” it reported.

The vessel suffered an 'emerging mechanical issue'. Pic: Royal Navy
Image:
The vessel suffered an ’emerging mechanical issue’. Pic: Royal Navy

The warship had departed from nearby Portsmouth on Saturday on what was described by the Royal Navy as a mission to “shape the future of stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean”.

The trip – provided it goes ahead – is set to see the carrier visit New York, Halifax in Canada and the Caribbean, operating fifth generation F-35 fast jets off the deck as well as drones.

Commanding Officer, Captain Richard Hewitt, said in a statement to mark the departure – and prior to the mechanical glitch: “Taking the HMS Prince of Wales task group across the Atlantic for the rest of this year will not only push the boundaries of UK carrier operations, but will reinforce our close working relationship with our closest ally.

“From operating the F35 Lightnings and drones to hosting the Atlantic Future Forum, none of this would be possible without the efforts of the amazing sailors on board, many of which are on their first deployment with the Royal Navy.”

HMS Prince of Wales, which heads a carrier task group, deployed with a frigate, tanker and an air group of helicopters and drones.

The F-35 warplanes are set to join the ship in the US.

Felixstowe strike: Workers at UK’s biggest container port to walk off the job for eight days | Business News

Workers at the UK’s biggest container port will go on strike for more than a week later this month in a dispute over pay.

More than 1,900 members of Unite union at Felixstowe will strike for eight days from Sunday 21 August until Monday 29 August.

The union said that employer Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company had failed to improve on its offer of a 7% pay increase, following only a 1.4% increase last year.

Almost half of the UK’s container traffic comes through Felixstowe and Unite said the action would hit supply chains, the logistics and haulage sectors, as well as international maritime trade.

It is the latest round of industrial action by workers pushing for pay to keep up with the cost of living.

Unite national officer for docks Bobby Morton said: “Strike action will cause huge disruption and will generate massive shockwaves throughout the UK’s supply chain, but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making.

“It has had every opportunity to make our members a fair offer, but has chosen not to do so. Felixstowe needs to stop prevaricating and make a pay offer which meets our members’ expectations.”

‘Massively profitable and incredibly wealthy’

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said both Felixstowe docks and its parent company Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison are “massively profitable and incredibly wealthy”, adding: “They are fully able to pay the workforce a fair day’s pay.

“The company has prioritised delivering multi-million pound dividends rather than paying its workers a decent wage.

“Unite is entirely focused on enhancing its members’ jobs, pay, and conditions, and it will be giving the workers at Felixstowe its complete support until this dispute is resolved, and a decent pay increase is secured.”

More talks are due to take place on Monday.

Read more:
London Tube strike announced for 19 August in row over jobs and pensions
Two more days of rail strikes announced in row over jobs, pay and conditions

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‘We need to remove power of militant unions’

In a statement supplied to Sky News, a spokesperson for the port said: “The company continues to actively seek a solution that works for all parties and that avoids industrial action.

“We understand our employees’ concerns at the rising cost of living and are determined to do all we can to help whilst continuing to invest in the port’s success.

“Discussions are ongoing and the company’s latest position in negotiations is an enhanced pay increase of 7%. We are meeting again on Monday 8 August with Acas and the union.

“The port has not had a strike since 1989 and we are disappointed that the union has served notice of industrial action while talks are ongoing. The port provides secure and well-paid employment and there will be no winners from industrial action.”

The Department for Transport has also been contacted for comment.

Felixstowe welcomes approximately 2,000 ship each year, according to its website, including some of the world’s largest container vessels.

Around 17 shipping lines operate from the port, offering 33 services to and from more than 700 ports around the world.