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French offshore wind turbine firm set to create 750 Scottish jobs

A French offshore wind company will locate its UK turbine manufacturing base in Scotland, creating about 750 jobs.

Areva chief executive Luc Oursel said: "Scotland is known to be a pioneer in renewables and its commitment to offshore wind in particular was a key part of our decision to locate our future UK manufacturing base there.This new facility is part of Areva's strategy to establish a manufacturing footprint that will cover the European market."

The announcement was made following an agreement with Scottish Enterprise at a meeting in Paris.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who was at the meeting, said: "Scotland shares Areva's vision of a cleaner tomorrow. Today's announcement provides a further boost to Scotland's position as one of Europe's key locations for offshore wind and takes us another significant step further in achieving our ambitious carbon reduction target."

The agreement outlines an intention to locate the company's nacelle, or turbine, operation and blade manufacturing facilities in the east of Scotland.

Areva is looking at offshore locations named in the country's national renewables infrastructure plan.

The jobs could be created in Scotland from manufacturing and the supporting supply chain, the company said.

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: "This announcement further demonstrates Scotland's position as a leading contributor to the low carbon agenda and ambition to deliver safe and sustainable energy through advanced technology.

"Offshore wind is a key driver of the economic benefit of renewables and we will continue to work closely with Areva to support its development plans in Scotland and create ongoing opportunities for wider industry growth."

Areva said it will manufacture its five-megawatt turbines in Scotland for offshore projects in the UK, complementing its base at Le Havre which will supply France, Belgium and more southerly UK projects.

A third base in Bremerhaven, Germany, will help establish an operation to cover the European market, the firm said.

Areva describes itself as one of the leading offshore wind suppliers in Europe. In the UK, it is also involved in nuclear decommissioning.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said: "Factories like those planned by Areva will provide the jobs of the future. Parents are asking where their children will find employment - the answer is in the renewable energy sector.

"Britain's offshore wind industry is on the threshold of delivering thousands of manufacturing jobs at a time when the country needs them most.

"Today's announcement by Areva is the latest in a series of commitments by big companies determined to seize the opportunity to maintain Britain's worldwide lead in offshore wind. It provides tangible proof of the growing importance of renewables to the UK's industrial base.

"It will inspire confidence among the energy investor community at a crucial time as the much-anticipated Energy Bill is about to be published.

"It's now time for the UK Government to nail its colours to the mast and make sure these planned investments come to fruition.

"We need to put the recent political spats over energy policy behind us and focus on what we need most: jobs, investment and securing a way of generating clean energy on an unprecedented scale."

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