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Norwegian takeover of £1.5bn Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm project

PUBLISHED: 17:17 17 October 2012 | UPDATED: 10:10 18 October 2012

The Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm.

The Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm.

Charles Hodge Photography, Lowestoft,01502 500272, www.chpv.co.uk

A pair of Norwegian companies have taken over an ambitious £1.5bn offshore wind farm project off the Norfolk coast.

Norwegian companies Statoil and Stratkraft, involved with oil and gas and renewable energy, have bought the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm project, previously run by British company Warwick Energy.

The 168-turbine development has received consent to be built 32km off Cromer and 20km north east of the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, also owned by Statoil and Statkraft through the joint-venture company Scira Offshore Energy.

Torbjørn Steen, spokesman for Statkraft, said he could not confirm how many jobs would be created through the takeover or when building work will begin.

Mr Steen added: “This is an important step in our build up of our industrial position. We are very pleased to build on our successful development of the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm.”

Mark Petterson, executive director for Warwick, said: “I think Statoil and Statkraft are a very good team. We always want to make sure the projects we work on are safely delivered. We are absolutely confident that Statoil and Statkraft will do a good job. We will honour all the commitments we have made.”

He added Warwick would still be “heavily involved” and would support the Norwegian companies, but certain aspects of the plan would be handed over to the new owners quicker than others.

Mr Petterson said it was always known funds would need to be brought into the project, which will offer hundreds of jobs during its construction and operation.

He added the plan, under the new arrangement, would not be “radically different” from when it was controlled by Warwick.

Meanwhile the battle for the location of an electricity sub-station, which will connect energy from the wind farm to the National Grid, continues.

An application by Warwick for the sub-station near mid Norfolk village Little Dunham, which attracted hundreds of objections, was rejected by Breckland Council in 2010. It will be scrutinised in a second public inquiry from November 6.

Breckland granted permission for the substation to be built at nearby Necton earlier this month, but the Little Dunham site was always Warwick’s preferred location.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “I am very pleased with this news. It is massive new investment offshore, directly off the North Norfolk coast. This means more jobs in North Norfolk and it is likely to be a similar number to the Sheringham Shoal, so we could be talking about 50 jobs.

“This is extra investment in the North Norfolk economy and the benefit to all the other supply businesses will be enormous. It reinforces the view that there is immense potential in this industry to create jobs for our youngsters in North Norfolk, and we have got to make sure we take advantage, and that Further Education colleges gear themselves up for meeting these opportunities.”

Mr Lamb said he thought there was a good chance that the port of Wells, which is the main service base for the Sheringham Shoal operation, could also become the hub for the Dudgeon technicians.

He said: “Clearly, Wells is very well placed with the infrastructure they have got there for Sheringham Shoal to provide facilities for this (Dudgeon) as well. Nothing is guaranteed but Wells is in a good place to provide that access.”

Tom FitzPatrick, deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “North Norfolk District Council welcomes this exciting announcement.

“The council has had an excellent working relationship with Statoil and Statkraft over a number of years during the building of the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm. That project is proving very beneficial for the people and the economy of the district, providing jobs and advanced technical skills.

“We are confident that the development of the Dudgeon wind farm, which lies 20 miles north of Cromer, by companies that clearly have great faith in the district, will ensure that North Norfolk remains at the forefront of offshore energy technology.”

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