The UK East coast communities are destined to be honeypots for investment as decades of opportunity lie ahead in the offshore wind industry, according to Member of Parliament for Waveney Peter Aldous.
Aldous believes that the GBP 22 billion being invested in the development of offshore wind projects off the east coast, that will annually cost GBP 550 million to run, will help reverse years of decline in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
The investment, and the supply chain companies setting up in and moving to the area, was giving local people hope for a better future, as well as providing an international exemplar to tackle climate change, Aldous said at the Offshore Wind Week event in Lowestoft.
However, he warned developers that public support for the industry could be affected by local companies missing out on the work.
“At a time when the SNS is the focus of an enormous amount of activity or offshore wind that fact that yards are here and are not able to take advantage of this could well undermine the public support for the industry,” Aldous said.
“There is a need for developers to sit down with fabricators and, if necessary with the government. There is a yard here that currently doesn’t have any work. It looks very bad.”
According to Martin Dronfield, Chair of EEEGR Offshore Wind Special Interest Group (SIG), the East Coast is the closest region to offshore wind developments on the west side of Europe, while local companies have vast export potential.
“The links that the east of England has with the Netherlands, Belgium, France are already incredibly strong. There is a powerful opportunity to take our skills and learning. It is about collaboration and creating clusters. We are only 60-70 miles away,” said Dronfield.
“We are constantly approached by people. Innovation is absolutely at the heart of what this region has to do to move this industry forward and getting costs down and efficiency relies hugely on technology.”
The UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry recently confirmed that the UK Government and the offshore wind industry are expected to reach a Sector Deal before 25 December.