Lowestoft 'is attractive' to Norfolk windfarm winners

Mark BoggisTHERE was joy today (Friday) with a major government announcement that one of the world's biggest offshore windfarms will be built off the north Suffolk and Norfolk coast.Mark Boggis

THERE was joy today (Friday) with a major government announcement that one of the world's biggest offshore windfarms will be built off the north Suffolk and Norfolk coast.

And with the unveiling of what will potentially be a �15bn scheme, Lowestoft has moved a step closer to becoming the maintenance and operational base for the development.

As exclusively revealed in today's Journal, about 1,000 turbines will be built 15 miles off the coast - and Lowestoft is a leading contender to provide the operations and maintenance base for the project - with an estimated 5,000 jobs likely to be created.

The government revealed this morning that East Anglia Offshore Wind Ltd - equally owned by ScottishPower Renewables and Swedish company Vettenfall Vindkraft - had won the licence for the East Anglia Array wind farm, also known as Norfolk Bank.

The company said it would set up its base in East Anglia and that Lowestoft is an attractive option.

Philip Watkins, Chief Executive of 1st East, the urban regeneration company for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, was delighted.

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'This is good news for the town and the sub-region,' he said. 'We've been working for months with local authorities and other partners to encourage energy companies bidding for the licence to set up their operations and maintenance base in Lowestoft.

'The town's PowerPark is a regeneration project aimed at creating a cluster of energy businesses, and it has already attracted Greater Gabbard Wind Farms Ltd.

'ScottishPower Renewables and Vettenfall came to see what we had to offer and they liked what they saw. If they chose to establish their base here it would be a significant boost to PowerPark and the entire sub-region.

'They have made it clear that Lowestoft is attractive to them,' he revealed.

ScottishPower Renewables and Vettenfall made specific enquiries about supply chain businesses in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, and also the skills development and education links with Lowestoft College, University Campus Suffolk and the University of East Anglia, said Mr Watkins.

The East Anglia Array was one of nine licences for new offshore wind farms in British waters issued today in the third licensing round by the Crown Estate, which owns most of the seabed.

The second largest of the round 3 zones, the 603,680-hectare East Anglia Array windfarm site is bigger than the county of Norfolk and would cost about �15bn.

Keith Anderson, of the ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall joint venture, said they were delighted to have been awarded the licence.

'There is no doubt that delivering the East Anglia Array will be a major engineering challenge but the combined experience of both partners acquired over decades in the energy business will help us deliver a project that will deliver enough green power to meet the equivalent annual electricity demand of more than five million homes in the UK," said Mr Anderson, Managing Director of ScottishPower Renewables.