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Windfarm HQ could create 150 jobs

PUBLISHED: 07:57 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 06 July 2010

A £1.5m project to turn Lowestoft harbour into the operational base for the world's largest offshore wind farm could see 150 jobs created in the town.

Associated British Ports (ABP) announced yesterday that Lowestoft has been chosen as the operations and maintenance base for the 140-turbine Greater Gabbard wind farm, which is currently being built about 15 miles off the Suffolk coast and, when completed, will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

A £1.5m project to turn Lowestoft harbour into the operational base for the world's largest offshore wind farm could see 150 jobs created in the town.

Associated British Ports (ABP) announced yesterday that Lowestoft has been chosen as the operations and maintenance base for the 140-turbine Greater Gabbard wind farm, which is currently being built about 15 miles off the Suffolk coast and, when completed, will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

As well as developing a new headquarters building at the old dockside fish market, the investment will mean that the port will be home to a fleet of helicopters and high-speed offshore catamarans, which will be able to travel from the Waveney Dock to the wind farm in about one hour.

Alastair MacFarlane, ABP port manager for East Anglia, said that as well as improving the outer harbour and surrounding area, the port development is expected to create up to 150 long-term, skilled jobs in the town.

Mr MacFarlane said: “Lowestoft has a long-established reputation as a centre for the offshore energy industry, and the port's central role in the operation of the Greater Gabbard wind farm will only act to enhance this reputation.”

The wind farm is being developed by Airtricity, part of Scottish and Southern Energy, with RWE Innogy and will eventually have a total generating capacity of 500 MW.

Airtricity's project director John Hill said: “Consisting of 140 offshore wind turbines and two offshore substations, the project will produce electricity sufficient to power more than 415,000 homes.

“Three sub-sea export cables will export the power back to shore, landing at Sizewell. The wind farm is scheduled to produce its first power later this year, with final completion in early 2011.”

An existing warehouse at the Waveney fish market which has been empty for a number of years is currently being converted into offices to become the wind farm's onshore operational centre.

In May last year, Waveney District Council backed plans from Bond Air Services for a helipad and hangar to be built near the docks off Battery Green Road.

Once it is built, the helipad will be used as a back-up facility for the base to transport engineers to the wind farm at short notice or when rough seas mean that ships cannot be used.

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