A leading wind turbine manufacturer said that despite eying up fresh offshore energy opportunities off the Norfolk coast it was unlikely that they would build a manufacturing base in the county.

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Hopes are high that offshore energy will create a jobs bonanza for the region.

But speaking to about 400 businessmen and women at the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) conference in Ipswich yesterday Andrew Fox, business relationship manager at French turbine manufacturer Areva Wind said the work would largely be found through the supply chain.

Mr Fox said the company was looking to supply turbines to the UK market with it main interest in projects in the Scottish and East Coast zones, but he largely ruled out plans for a manufacturing base in the region.

Among the projects the company is looking at is the latest Crown Estate “round three” wind farm schemes which includes East Anglia Offshore Wind, a 7,200MW project 43kms off the Norfolk coast.

Mr Fox said the company was interested in opening a UK manufacturing base, but said that “on the balance of probabilities” a planned UK manufacturing facility would not be in this region. However, he said that there would be jobs in the region in support operations.

“Where the factory goes is not the important issue,” he said. “What you need to understand is what we are going to do takes support.

“To support what goes into the sea needs far more work and it is where we have far more interest. There are a lot of things that are needed on the service side and there are a lot of things we would like to be doing in this area.

“There are some businesses in here who are already working in the wind industry. People who are putting business plans together and businesses aspiring to the wind industry.

“What we want you to do is to think how you can supply us competitively,” he told the audience including many small and medium sized regional businesses.

“We do believe that we have got a product that is right for round three. We want a British supply chain that has the integrity and skills that we need.”

Tim Johnson, contract manager for procurement at Danish energy giant DONG - which is involved in a number of windfarm projects around the UK coast including the Gunfleet Sands project off Essex, said that the supply chain needed to think ahead and that they wanted to understand the businesses.

He said: “We want to understand your business, we want to understand what your overhead is, we want to understand where your fixed costs are. But we want you to make a profit. As an industry we have to be realistic. We could do everything in the UK, but we need to make sure we are competitive first. We will treat UK, German, French, Australian companies exactly the same. We will have the same criteria. If you, as a business, and you, as an industry can be on a same level playing field you will have the opportunity to do business with DONG.”

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