5,000 new jobs hope for Lowestoft area

AN estimated 5,000 new jobs could soon be created in and around the Lowestoft area, The Journal can today reveal.Lowestoft is in a prime position to deliver an economic bonanza by capitalising on new offshore windfarms that could be constructed nearby.

AN estimated 5,000 new jobs could soon be created in and around the Lowestoft area, The Journal can today reveal.

Lowestoft is in a prime position to deliver an economic bonanza by capitalising on new offshore windfarms that could be constructed nearby.

And with Lowestoft's aim of becoming the energy capital of Britain, the development of a new PowerPark in the town - which would be situated near to the landmark Gulliver turbine and would be centred on OrbisEnergy - could prove the catalyst.

The future vision is for businesses to form a major energy cluster in the future under a marine engineering park. Urban Regeneration Company 1st East admitted this was 'really good news for Lowestoft' yesterday, and added the first part of their 15-year-plan to transform swathes of waterfront land locally is already close to becoming reality.

A new PowerPark demand and needs study is set to be unveiled next Monday. This major report was commissioned by 1st East in conjunction with partners from EEEgr (East of England Energy Group), Renewables East, NWES (Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services), SLP, ABP, EEDA (the East of England Development Agency), Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council.

With this 'important' document having been produced by internationally renowned consultants Bruce Valpy Associates, in conjunction with Douglas Westwood Limited, power related businesses and energy companies - which include renewables, oil and gas, nuclear, wind and wave technology - have all been spoken to as concerted efforts have been made behind the scenes in recent weeks to market the potential of this PowerPark, with this research and the town's prominent position forming part of the offer.

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'In December an announcement is due as the winners of the Round 3 offshore windfarm are revealed,' 1st East chief executive Philip Watkins told The Journal.

'Companies are bidding for a slice of the 25GW turbine contracts and the largest of the nine sites around the UK are off the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth coast.

'This is right on our doorstep on a massive scale and as Lowestoft already has a track record of success delivering Scroby Sands in Round 1 and Greater Gabbard in Round 2 so the port facilities are being promoted to Round 3 bidders.'

With Lowestoft ideally placed to benefit from nine zones that have been earmarked in the UK map 'that offers indicative economic potential for future offshore wind farms,' two of these zones are listed as Norfolk and Hornsea, and these are the targeted areas which could lead to an energy hub being created that would trigger a catalyst for growth.

1st East, ABP, SLP and partners are now putting forward literature and this newly-published report to highlight the major local benefits. Lowestoft already has a track record of welcoming offshore energy businesses, which was proved last year when Airtricity chose the town as the place to locate their operations.

'Airtricity was impressed by the response it had from the port and the local authority, which is a very positive message to build on,' said Mr Watkins.

'Part of this case, which is being put forward to companies, is that this sub region has been involved in this business for over 40 years and the transferable skills are already in place along with the facilities.

Drawing on a strong heritage in both the towns of Lowestoft and Yarmouth, Mr Watkins believes the announcement in December could spark another 'coincidence of opportunity and geography.'

He told The Journal: 'Lowestoft and Yarmouth, often described as on the periphery, are exactly in the right location with the right skills to take advantage of the new growth sector, offshore renewable energy industry.'

'We have been doing a lot of work to progress the area action plan across Lowestoft, but we are accelerating the development of a PowerPark with a powerful alliance in place of public and private sector partners, who jointly commissioned some feasibility and technical studies.

With the PowerPark research showing the best option for Lowestoft is to create a 'centre for operations and maintenance for the energy sector' - according to a spokesman for BVG Associates - 1000 people are being earmarked for employment on the new facility and others as part of the supply chain, Mr Watkins said: 'There are expected to be about 1000 direct jobs and around 4000 other indirect support jobs created over the next ten years.'

For more on Lowestoft's bid for a new PowerPark in the town, and the bids going out to key stakeholders for the next round of the offshore windfarms, be sure to buy next week's Journal that will also include a special feature on 1st East's annual review and area action plan for the town.