A new milestone has been reached in the £25m vision for the port of Lowestoft.

In November last year the Marine Management Organisation gave consent for Associated British Ports' £25 million development of the Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF).

Now, the UK’s leading ports operator has awarded civil engineering firm McLaughlin & Harvey the design and build contract for its ambitious LEEF.

The LEEF will be located at the port of Lowestoft as a support hub for the offshore energy industry.

Associated British Ports' vision for the LEEF is to provide a facility that is suitable for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) activities and construction support for the offshore energy industry, helping to transform Lowestoft into East of England’s premier offshore energy hub.

As part of the next phase of the project, Associated British Ports will invest around £1m in the detailed design of infrastructural upgrades of the site, including the addition of extra capacity to accommodate the next generation of larger offshore support vessels.

The design phase is anticipated to last around six months with the construction following over the next year and potential for vessels to begin using the facility from 2024.

Andrew Harston, Associated British Ports' director for Wales and Short Sea Ports, said: "The winning design for LEEF will enable us to deliver this hugely exciting project and create a competitive edge for companies across the Southern North Sea (SNS) energy sector.

"Having recently won ‘Best Project’ in the regional Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2022, LEEF has the potential to attract many supply chain companies to Lowestoft, bringing new jobs and prosperity to the area."

LEEF forms part of the Port Gateway project which is one of five projects that will benefit from Lowestoft’s £24.9M towns deal awarded in 2020 by the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities as a result of a successful investment plan submitted by East Suffolk Council.

The Port of Lowestoft has a long history of servicing the offshore energy sector, as a home to O&M bases for Scottish Power Renewables and Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE).

Seamus Devlin, McLaughlin & Harvey civil engineering director, said: "McLaughlin & Harvey is delighted to have been awarded the design contract for ABP’s Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility.

"We bring experience from our ever-expanding expertise in civils and marine works, and look forward to commencing the design of this exciting project in the near future."