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Ports are vying for windfarm work

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 December 2012

The Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour operated by Eastport.

The Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour operated by Eastport.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth are vying for the opportunity to run port operations for the East Anglia One windfarm which, if built, could add £500m to the region’s economy.

As revealed yesterday, a planning application has been put in by Vattenfall and ScottishPower to build up to 325 turbines 43 miles off the Suffolk coast south of Lowestoft, which could see construction start in 2016.

As part of the project an analysis will start next year to see if Yarmouth, Lowestoft or Harwich will be the port to serve the turbines’ construction, laying cables to Bawsdey, near Felixstowe and helping to run the vast site.

And it has also been revealed that “floatels” will be set up in the North Sea for construction workers.

Jason Martin, programme director for the windfarm, said that whichever port was chosen, companies in Norfolk and Suffolk were set to benefit from the turbines, which could provide power for up to 770,000 homes and create 1,600 construction jobs and take 170 engineers and technicians to run them.

He said: “There is a huge logistical challenge ahead and we are looking to bringing many different skills to the project.

“The planning application is the first step of a significant and real opportunity for us and for businesses across the whole of east Anglia.”

Vattenfall and ScottishPower have spent three years drawing up their detailed plans and have already handed out £7m of contracts to companies for preparation work, such as seabed surveys.

Yarmouth-based marine company Gardline Marine Services was one of the first firms to be awarded contracts and it has spent 400,000 man hours carrying out survey work.

It sent out two ships to the site and each spent the equivalent of a year surveying the 6,000 sq km set aside for the turbines.

John Morse, head of renewables at Gardline, hopes the company will be involved in the windfarm’s construction and its operational life of more than 20 years.

He said: “Obviously there will be open tender negotiations.

“But as a local company we feel we are well placed and have the expertise and skills suitable for the windfarm.”

East Anglia One could be the first of six windfarms in the East Anglia Zone off Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

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