Posted: Wed 16th Nov 2011

Concerns Over Future Of Wrexham Sharp Factory

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 16th, 2011

Concerns have been raised about the future of Sharp’s manufacturing plant in Llay after the company told the government it was reviewing its presence in the UK.

Their decision has come about as a result of the government’s decision to bring forward plans to halve the Feed-In Tariff for solar energy schemes from March to December.

In a private briefing paper to the government Sharp Solar stated: “Sharp has invested £26 million in its UK factory which, in 2005, became our European Union manufacturing base.

“We are disappointed that this inward investment appears to have been overlooked and in light of the comprehensive FIT proposals we are now in a position of reviewing our presence in the UK.”

“We have already had to reduce the numbers of employees in our Wrexham factory from over 1,000 to 500.”

The decision to suddenly halve the rate paid for solar energy contributions to the National Grid has also called into doubt Wrexham Council’s plans to install PV panels on 3,000 council houses, the scheme was calculated on the basis of a Feed-In Tariff of 43p per unit.

However, Andrew Lee, Head of International Sales at Sharp Solar has denied media reports that the company is planning to shut the Wrexham factory, he said: “We are genuinely concerned by the government’s comprehensive review of the feed-in tariff.

“We are also particularly critical of the 12th December deadline set for the change in tariff as this will have negative connotations for businesses and individuals with plans already in place to install solar PV that are not able to meet this short deadline.

“This review time frame is unrealistic, and like any good business we have to review our position and our offering in line with market changes. We have written to the prime minister to communicate these points.

“However there are no plans to shut our manufacturing plant in Wrexham. There have been workforce fluctuations at our plant in response to variable demand within the European market.

“Decisions made by the UK and other European governments do affect our industry and we will continue to monitor the current Feed-In-Tariff proposals and the potential impact it will have on the UK PV industry.”

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Huws Gruffydd has condemned the government for potentially putting local jobs at risk, he said: “It was expected that the Tariff would be halved in March 2012, which would have given installers and manufacturers time to adjust and prepare.

“To unilaterally announce that the FIT will be halved a full fortnight before the consultation comes to an end smacks of a government that doesn’t know what it’s doing.

“From the point of view of workers in Wrexham and the council locally, that’s certainly the case. Large and ambitious projects such as the council’s PV panel installation scheme take time to set up and to see them undermined by a government that doesn’t know the meaning of the word consultation is very harsh.

“I urge the London government to re-think its decision to ensure that the Sharp factory has a bright future but also to ensure that we continue to develop the renewable energy industry and reduce our carbon footprint here in Wales.”



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