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Wind energy set to bring job bonanza

PUBLISHED: 11:24 29 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:15 05 July 2010

Aspirations to transform Lowestoft into the UK's wind energy capital took a major step forward last night, with a major new development predicted to spark a jobs and investment bonanza.

Aspirations to transform Lowestoft into the UK's wind energy capital took a major step forward last night, with a major new development predicted to spark a jobs and investment bonanza.

The company behind the world's largest offshore windfarm is set to make Lowestoft its operational base in a move that was described by Waveney MP Bob Blizzard as “one of the best days” in the town's history.

Plans have been lodged to build a base at the seafront Waveney Dock from where it can operate and maintain the Greater Gabbard windfarm 26km off the Suffolk coast, which will feature 140 turbines by the end of 2010.

Experts yesterday predicted the development, which features a helicopter landing pad and hangar, would act as a catalyst for the creation of thousands of jobs across the area.

Mr Blizzard said: “This is one of the best days that Lowestoft has ever had. I've been saying for a long time that the town could become the wind energy capital of the country.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence in Lowestoft and the long-term effect will be phenomenal. This is hopefully the beginning of our dream being fulfilled - and it doesn't stop here.”

High-profile company Airtricity is behind the Greater Gabbard windfarm, and the planning application, submitted by Bond Air Services, shows that a landing pad and hangar would be built on an existing concrete jetty at Waveney Dock, off Battery Green Road.

The development would bring about 120 jobs - made up mainly of turbine technicians and engineers - to the town, but is expected to create many more jobs, especially in the service industries such as hotels and transport.

It is also hoped it will open the floodgates to future green projects, with the Renewables East company, which is charged with helping the region reach its green targets, poised to attract further investment.

Mr Blizzard said the planned development, along with the opening of the Orbis Energy centre, planted the town firmly at the cutting edge of the ever-increasing green power industry, which is worth £10bn to the eastern region alone.

The £9m Orbis centre will house more than 30 companies involved in renewable energy when it opens at Ness Point later this year.

“We secured the investment in the belief that it would attract investment and we can see today that it has,” added Mr Blizzard.

“We are now seriously on the way to becoming the wind energy capital.”

Steve Clarke, development director for offshore renewable energy at Renewables East, confirmed that Airtricity would make Lowestoft its operational base if planning permission for the helipad and hangar was given the green light by Waveney District Council.

“It is a huge step forward and is the first of a number of initiatives Renewables East is leading on that will bring an increasing share of the offshore renewables sector to our region,” said Mr Clarke.

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