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New Yarmouth jobs boom as North Sea anniversary looms

PUBLISHED: 11:57 07 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:57 07 August 2014

Ships moored up along the quay in Great Yarmouth where oil, gas, marine and offshore businesses have there bases.

Picture: James Bass

Ships moored up along the quay in Great Yarmouth where oil, gas, marine and offshore businesses have there bases. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

As Great Yarmouth prepares for the 50th anniversary of the discovery of southern North Sea gas, fresh employment data highlights a dramatic new energy jobs boom in the town.

Ahead of next year’s anniversary, figures released by the borough council indicate at least 220 jobs have been created in the energy sector supply chain in the last year alone.

The success story is underscored by the arrival in the borough of a succession of international players in the offshore industry.

Gorleston’s Beacon Park has recently welcomed such prestigious companies as MacLean Electrical and Hydra Rig and business travel firm HRG – targeting offshore business – will be moving in next month, creating at least another 30 jobs.

As well as a marked upturn in oil and gas, Yarmouth companies are also reaping the benefits of the offshore wind sector with Alicat Workboats, which builds and services wind-farm support vessels, creating 25 jobs in the past 12 months.

And there are signs that the jobs boom is even gathering momentum with Vroon Offshore, which arrived in Yarmouth two years ago, recently announcing an expansion in its fleet of emergency response and rescue vessels that could deliver a further 100 jobs.

Council leader Trevor Wainwright said: “The fact that so many businesses in the energy sector supply chain, many with existing Aberdeen bases, are continuing to expand into and grow within the Yarmouth borough represents a huge vote of confidence in the local economy, the skills of the workforce, the port and business park facilities, and the enterprise zone status.”

Alongside traditional oil and gas, the offshore wind sector was also burgeoning with Yarmouth receiving a “resounding endorsement” from Dudgeon Offshore Wind in 2013 when it announced the town as its preferred harbour location for operation and maintenance activities for the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm.

East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) director Celia Anderson said: “A lot of companies are taking on a lot of people.

“There is so much varied business here for the supply chain and we have a strong skills base here.”

She said EEEGR’s Matt Knights, working with coastal job centres, had placed nearly 40 jobless people with energy firms in the last quarter alone.

In the past five years, more than 100 youngsters had progressed to careers in the energy industry after graduating from the energy skills foundation programme being run at Yarmouth and Lowestoft colleges.

Chief executive Simon Gray said: “We are the only region offering North Sea gas, nuclear, wind and other renewables – hence the reason EEEGR was set up.

“There are increasing signs that the government is at last recognising the role the East of England plays for UK PLC in keeping the lights on. Before, it was always Aberdeen-
centric.”

He highlighted the pivotal role of the LEP, MPs and local authorities in paving the way for jobs growth by successfully pressing for an enterprise zone and assisted area status.

Mr Gray said the upturn was set to continue with a predicted £50bn of investment in the region’s energy sector expected over the coming two decades.

Is your business part of the new energy boom? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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