Energy minister visits Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Norwich

New businesses, investment and future developments were at the heart of a ministerial visit to Norfolk and Suffolk.

Minister of state for energy and climate change Charles Hendry conducted a whistle-stop tour of the East Anglian region today (Friday) to see the unique opportunities that are available locally.

With nuclear energy, wind energy and gas all playing prominent roles in the visits to Sizewell, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Norwich, the visits were hailed as 'encouraging' by Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

Mr Hendry's visit to Sizewell this morning follows the recent announcement by the Secretary Of State for the Department for Energy and Climate Change regarding the nominated sites for potential new nuclear plants.

Mr Hendry said: 'I believe this area is very important for our energy future - renewables and gas as well. Its a chance for the east to be a leader. We have got some of the biggest wind farms in the land off the coast here. I am very keen indeed on this and the jobs that come with that.

An important treble was toasted in Lowestoft. As Mr Aldous welcomed Mr Hendry to a summit of business leaders at The OrbisEnergy Centre to discuss investment and job creation in the energy sector, a new business - Goah Energy, which is dedicated to the development of on and offshore renewable energy resources - was unveiled in the town.

It was also announced that electricity has been generated for the first time today at the Greater Gabbard offshore windfarm, while the lease for the East Anglia Array offshore windarm development between ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall was also signed.

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During his visit to Eastport, Mr Hendry said he understood the frustration of towns such as Great Yarmouth that they were not eligible for new government funding to allow firms to develop wind energy-related industry at ports.

He said: 'We recognise the disappointment and have asked Crown Estates to work with ports like Yarmouth to see how they can make the best case for development in these areas and ensure companies know what is on offer. We are keen to see investment in ports like this.'

Mr Hendry said Yarmouth was a 'fantastic location' for wind energy development with available land and easy access to the port.

The energy minister was set to bring his tour of the Norfolk and Suffolk to a close with a visit to Petans in Norwich this evening.