Chamber lobbies for Offshore Wind farm opportunities

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Onshore wind farms have been in the press recently with mixed messages coming out from government. However the Norfolk Chamber is clear that offshore wind farms and the current and potential investment from Norfolk Chamber member East Anglia Offshore Wind (EAOW) and its contractors is good news for the Norfolk business community. EAOW is a joint venture between Scottish  Power Renewables (SPR) and Vattenfall.

To date EAOW have invest £7m in East Anglia and they have made it clear during conversations we have been having with them that they are trying to use local contractors where possible to ensure the region benefits as much as possible from jobs and investment as a result of the scheme. With support from Brandon Lewis MP I have written to John Hayes to ask for a meeting with him in Westminster, and have already organised a lunch with him and industry leaders in May 2013 after his keynote speech at our Sustainability 2013 conference on 9 May 2013 at John Innes, Norwich.

Ann  Stewart economic cabinet members Norfolk County Council and I  met up with Andy Paine EAOW programme director in Barrrow in Furness in September prior to visiting Vattenfall’s latest offshore wind farm Ormonde. Andy is clear that with the help and support of local contractors East Anglia Offshore Wind is making strong progress and is on schedule to lodge their first application for consent this year. Further opportunities will become available as the wind farm progresses through its consenting, construction and operations phases.

EAOW has already placed a number of contracts with companies in the region and that over the last two years, as part of plans to build one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world; it estimates it has helped support almost 170 jobs across East Anglia through its investments.

These include Chamber member Gardline marine services, marine researcher Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas), fisheries consultants Brown and May, online consultation experts Consense, consultants Eastern Edge and land agents Freedom Group who are all working on East Anglia ONE, the first phase of the East Anglia Zone

There is still work for Norfolk members to do however to ensure that investment comes to this area and not further up the east coast. As mentioned earlier Ann Stewart Economic Cabinet member for Norfolk County Council and I spent time with Andy Paine and his team including Vattenfall’s President and CEO Oystein Loseth celebrating the official opening of  Vattenfall’s newest 30 turbine Offshore Wind Farm Osmonde just off Bury in Furness in September 2012. My pictures tell their own tale!

Until I physically visited the Osborne Wind farm  I had found it is quite difficult to understand the size of these turbines but seeing is believing. Each jacket foundations is  45 metres high and weights approximately 500 tonnes or putting it another way each individual jacket will weigh as much as 70 African elephants and if all thirty jackets were stacked end-to-end they would be 13 times higher than the Forth Rail Bridge! The Osmonde turbines cover an area of 8.7km2 and will meet the needs of more than 100,000 UK households so the development being planned by EAOW to power over five million homes is truly amazing

The four hour boat trip out to the Ormonde Windfarm with high winds, rain and significant swell convinced me that I am not looking for at a career change... but it did convince me that the potential for this region is vast.  Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers are having regular meetings with EAOW and will feedback supply chain opportunities to our members as and when they become clear.  In addition we will continue to lobby government so that they fully understand the importance of offshore wind farms to the UK economy and start to give some certainty to the industry.



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