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Wind is turning in Lowestoft's favour

PUBLISHED: 21:03 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 06 July 2010

LOWESTOFT is in a prime position to grasp the "massive opportunity" offered by the growth of renewable energy.

But it will require confidence, determination and a clear and cohesive economic strategy if local companies are to reap the dividends of the growing wind-power revolution, a gathering of business leaders was told.

LOWESTOFT is in a prime position to grasp the “massive opportunity” offered by the growth of renewable energy.

But it will require confidence, determination and a clear and cohesive economic strategy if local companies are to reap the dividends of the growing wind-power revolution, a gathering of business leaders was told.

More than 100 people gathered at the OrbisEnergy centre on Friday to launch the 2010 'Enterprising Britain' competition, and celebrate Lowestoft's victory last year. The town will represent the UK in the European competition in May.

To mark the launch, Lord Davies, Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Small Businesses, visited OrbisEnergy to see how Lowestoft had turned around its economic fortunes by encouraging enterprise, innovation and self-employment.

Opening the event, Waveney MP Bob Blizzard paid tribute to the efforts of NWES, the area's enterprise service, in making Lowestoft a place where small businesses were thriving. But, he stressed, the town could not afford to rest on its laurels.

The aim now was for Lowestoft to secure not only the operation and maintenance work required by the offshore wind industry, but the manufacturing contracts too.

“We've already got the title of the enterprise capital, and now we here ready to seize the massive opportunity to become capital of offshore wind energy,” he said. “With our location, our port… We are in the prime position.”

Earlier this year ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft - a state-owned Swedish power group - were awarded the rights to develop a major offshore wind farm off the north Suffolk coast, which has been unveiled as the East Anglia Array.

The new wind farm, which will start construction in the next five years, is likely to see the creation of at least 1,000 turbines with the potential to provide enough clean green energy to power the equivalent of over five million homes every year.

It's hoped the development of the world's second largest offshore wind farm on Lowestoft's doorstep will trigger a massive jobs and economic bonanza to the town, though it remains to be seen where the turbines will be made and assembled.

Lord Davies said it was clear that activity in the renewable energy sector - and particularly offshore wind-power - was “going to explode” over the next decade. And he told delegates: “This area has an opportunity to seize a big part of that, not only in offshore but in the supply chain… You need to go out and grab a slice of the manufacturing too.”

The event also heard from Lowestoft entrepreneur Will King, the man behind the successful King of Shaves brand.

He urged local businesses to set out a confident and cohesive strategy to make Lowestoft a centre for the renewables industry.

But he warned: “It won't happen if people simply talk about it.”

Afterwards, Lord Davies toured the OrbisEnergy centre and met some of the entrepreneurs who have based their businesses there.

He also unveiled a painting, specially commissioned from local artist Lorenzo Barron, to mark Lowestoft's victory in the Enterprising Britain competition. It depicts the town's upturn in fortunes, from the decline of its fishing industry to its new-found status as the UK's 'enterprise capital'.

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