Friday, 10 July 2009

Making Camborne and Redruth an international centre of excellence

Today we hosted a national marine energy summit at the Tremough Campus in Penryn with our front bench energy and climate change team travelling to Cornwall to see what we can achieve.

I had been pushing for the party nationally to hold such an event in Cornwall since the spring. This part of Cornwall has a great track record in invention and pioneering new ideas. The steam locomotive was invented here. One of the biggest challenges facing our generation is how to keep the lights on when the oil runs out and I believe wave and tidal power can be part of the solution. Cornwall, with its huge coastline, is uniquely placed to become a world leader in developing these new technologies.

I first visited Tremough back in January soon after being selected as the candidate. I think it has real potential to become an international centre of excellence. It is already doing some leading work on the design of moorings for wave devices which is an important challenge that must be overcome. Some of the academics leading the work at Tremough were at the conference today to brief the Conservative front bench on their work.

I picked up Greg Clark (Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change), Greg Barker (Shadow Minister for Climate Change) and Baroness Wilcox (House of Lords front bench) at 7.30am from Truro. They had travelled down on the sleeper train.

The day started with a visit to A&P in Falmouth Docks to meet Mike Reynolds and his head of operations, Jez, to discuss the role that they will play in maintaining and possibly manufacturing some of the wave devices.

Over 60 people attended the summit held at Tremough. We had the country's leading experts in marine energy technology and people had travelled from across the country - and from as far afield as Scotland to come to the hub of marine energy innovation in Cornwall to help inform Conservative policy in this area.

We had presentations from Luke Myers from the University of Southampton, Merlin Hyman from Regen SW, Nick Harrington, who works for the RDA and has been leading on the Wave Hub project and Ken Street from Bodmin based Orecon who are manufacturers of wave devices.

It was great to get so many industry experts in the same place at the same time- and for such an event to be taking place in the Camborne and Redruth constituency. Greg Clark explained that a future Conservative Government would be aiming to develop marine energy parks as centres of excellence for these new technologies - and that Cornwall was well placed to become the first. Now is the time to take the initiative.