Harwich has all the potential and advantages to make it a major player in the offshore wind energy industry – it just needs a level playing field to compete on with its competitors.
That was the message to Greg Barker, Government Minister for Energy and Climate Change, from a business delegation in the town on September 16.
The group got round the table with Mr Barker at the Pier Hotel and were given the opportunity to put Harwich’s case.
It was the minister’s first visit to the area and he invited the delegation to tell him what they would like him to take back to London.
Tendring District Council (TDC) Leader Peter Halliday said it was quite a simple message.
“We are round this table to make sure that Harwich and Tendring are able to make the very most of the opportunities and benefits available from the offshore wind energy sector,” he said.
“We want those opportunities to come to our District but it seems that we are playing on an uneven field at the moment. We seem to be missing the boat.”
Cllr Halliday said that efforts were being made to up-skill Tendring’s workforce but the jobs needed to be there for them to take up afterwards.
He talked about how the District needed to secure CORE status to improve its profile and give it that ability to compete with national and international competition.
Everyone on the delegation made the point that it made logistical sense for the industry to come to Harwich and the enthusiasm is definitely there.
Tom Gardiner, TDC’s Regeneration Manager, added that capturing the opportunities afforded by the offshore energy sector is critical to securing the economic growth of the District.
“We are working hard with all our partners to establish a prospectus for Harwich that will set out our offer to the offshore energy industry,” he said.
George Kieffer, Chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership, spoke of how important it is to get the A120 upgraded as part of the overall strategy.
“There are significant opportunities to establish enterprise areas at key locations along the length of the A120 – some of which will be needed to support the offshore sector,” he added.
The meeting was set up by Harwich and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin, and organised by TDC.
Other delegates were: Andrew Hartson (Port Development Director, Hutchison Ports UK); Bill Binks (Managing Director, Mann Lines, Harwich Navy Yard); Stephen Bracewell (Chief Executive, Harwich Haven Authority); Bruce Clements (Business Development Director CWind, Brightlingsea); Gary Horne (Assistant Principal, Colchester Institute); Andy March (Managing Director, GPF Bid/Mayflower Project).
Mr Barker promised to take the message back to London and pass it on to other relevant Government Departments and provide feedback in due course.
Mr Jenkin said: “I am delighted to have been able to help in setting this meeting up. The District Council, the LEP and local businesses have all made efforts to encourage growth in the offshore wind sector in Harwich.
“It is important that central Government also recognises Harwich’s potential as an offshore energy hub and takes steps to encourage economic regeneration and job creation in the town.”
Mr Barker was in Harwich at the invitation of Dong Energy.
Press release, September 23, 2013; Image: Tendring District Council