East Anglia’s energy sector in spotlight

Momentum is building to promote the region to potential investors as a big wind project is expected to move forward later this year.

A programme to cultivate what has been dubbed the East of England Energy Zone has been put in the place as delegations have been working to raise the profile of the region both in the UK and internationally.

In recent weeks businesses Fendercare, CLS Offshore and Gardline joined a group from the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance at a major wind conference in Copenhagen. Days later representatives from export department UKTI visited this region to explore the opportunities for the enterprise zones. Anthony Arkle, the UKTI's head of energy, environment and infrastructure projects, was accompanied by colleagues Dr Piers Willson and Marc Adams. They toured Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, viewing the ports and meeting leading companies.

At the international European Wind Energy Association Conference, NSEA had a stand at the exhibition and took park in a series of specially arranged presentations and networking opportunities.

Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance inward invesment director James Gray said: 'The exhibition alone has given us more than 100 positive business leads for the region. It was a great success and aroused tremendous interest. The East of England's offshore wind farms are the hot topic of the sector right now.'

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Survey work has been undertaken for third offshore wind farm project round off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast and East Anglia Offshore Wind is expected to put in a planning application later this year.

Mr Gray said: 'We are in contact with the major businesses we expected to be dealing with at this stage who are big players who will make the big decisions.

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'Another big part of this is to ensure that our local businesses are getting as many opportunities as possible to promote their capabilities. They will be key to us securing some of the bigger investors coming in because they can see the quality of the experience.

Marcus Noakes, business development manager for Gardline Geosciences , said the visit to Copenhagan, the first of a series of partnering events organised by the British Embassy and Danish Wind industry produced some encouraging contacts and networking.

Inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone James Gray said: 'If you look at the other areas that are competing for new offshore wind investment they do not have the history. What we find is when we are attracting potential investors to that supply chain they recognise that 50 years of experience in the oil and gas industry is going to be important to the new wind farms that are going to be further out in the Southern North Sea.'

'This is a time of unprecedented growth in offshore wind yet the ongoing investment in all-energy in the North Sea and around the world still dominates.

'We have a strong association with all elements of the supply chain and a unique industry driven skills programme, Skills for Energy, hosted by EEEGR.

'We want to ensure that companies investing across the energy spectrum are fully aware of the real competitive advantage that locating and operating in the East of England Energy Zone can bring.'

Last year Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were granted Enterprise Zone status offering a simplified planning regime and business rate relief for the development of a number of key sites including port related land with quayside access. The region has already been designated by Government a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering (CORE), one of only five identified across the country.

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