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British firms should get east coast windfarm contracts, says MP

A windfarm. Pic: DONG Energy A/S.

A windfarm. Pic: DONG Energy A/S.

DONG Energy

British firms should be awarded contracts to help build a series of major windfarms off the east coast, an MP has said.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous.  Picture: James Bass Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: James Bass

Waveney MP Peter Aldous’ comments came as a Iberdrola Renewables Offshore awarded a 65million Euro contract to build a substation for the East Anglia ONE windfarm to Spanish firm Navantia.

At a recent East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) House of Commons reception, Iberdrola managing director Jonathan Cole said Lowestoft company Sembmarine SLP had been “so successful in winning other work and they had such a full order book they could not take on our contract”.

The firm - based at Hamilton Dock, Lowestoft - had spoken of its hopes to win the contract and running it alongside its contract for the Maersk Oil Culzean project in the North Sea, to make a power generation module flare and two bridge links for the largest gas field sanctioned by the UK since 1990.

“It is good news for Lowestoft, it is good news for SLP,” Mr Cole said.

Jonathan Cole, managing director of Iberdrola Renewables Offshore. Jonathan Cole, managing director of Iberdrola Renewables Offshore.

“We have no hard feelings towards SLP and are looking forward to engaging with them in the future.”

Sembmarine SLP could not be reached for comment.

At a Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, Mr Aldous said: “It would’ve been difficult for SLP to fit it in. It wasn’t work they needed.”

However he said: “Developers very much ask government to give them confidence and clarity. I’m very happy to take that message to government. However there’s a return that government and the taxpayer expect, where possible, to award contracts to British companies.

“If companies like SLP can get a full order book, they can invest and that puts them in a better place to win new contracts.”

He added that the goal would be to create a “virtuous circle” where supply chain firms in the east get the benefits of investment and lucrative contracts.

EEEGR chief executive Simon Gray said that while one-off contracts are important, the “real prize” is the longer-term 25 to 40-year contracts that could employ anywhere between 100 and 250 people for two generations.

What do you think? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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