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East Anglia Future 50

'There may not be another chance like it': Energy bosses on wind bid

PUBLISHED: 14:45 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 03 May 2019

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall

© Ben Barden Photography Ltd.

The bid for Norfolk to become the centre of wind power revolution has stepped up a level with Swedish energy giants Vattenfall holding a supply chain event in Norwich.

Vattenfall supply chain manager Rob Lilly. Picture: Julian ClaxtonVattenfall supply chain manager Rob Lilly. Picture: Julian Claxton

Hundreds of delegates interested in bidding for work on the proposed Vattenfall Vanguard project gathered to hear about the potential of the development.

But the plans to build the farm – which would power up to 1.3m homes – have not yet been approved.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia LEP, said that if the bid was to be rejected “it would send the message that Norfolk and Suffolk is not open for business”.

He added: “I think if the Vattenfall project was not approved it would be a big step back in our bid to become the epicentre for clean offshore energy.

LEP chief executive Chris Starkie. Picture: Angela SharpeLEP chief executive Chris Starkie. Picture: Angela Sharpe

“This project has the potential to be transformative for Norfolk and Suffolk, providing the investment and opportunity stays to some extent within the region.”

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Vattenfall's supply chain manager Rob Lilly said that delays or a rejection of the project would impact Norfolk's workforce for generations.

Mr Lilly said: “There is going to be an increase in transport if Vanguard gets approved but we're doing everything we can to minimise the disruption. I can entirely relate to people not wanting an increase in traffic.

“But Vanguard would create jobs for generations, and not only in highly skilled technicians but also in the labour needed to build and weld and construct.”

The company has said it will need at least 420 onshore construction staff, hundreds offshore during construction, as well as 150 technicians.

Mr Lilly continued: “If you look at offshore projects in Taiwan, most of the people out there are European. Once the Vanguard project is finished workers will have the chance to export their skills and widen their horizons beyond what they imagined.

“I would just ask people to look at the bigger picture, because to reject this would be holding other people back from their potential. I don't know if the Eastern region will get another chance like this in our lifetime.”

Vattenfall has already begun building its supply network for the project, after securing £22,000 from the New Anglia LEP with the Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce.

The money was awarded to alert SMEs to the project and get them prepared for bidding. The money is expected to create 15 jobs as well as 40 apprenticeships.

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