Millions could be spent to make Norfolk green energy hotbed, creating 500 jobs
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Millions of pounds could be spent on an ambitious project to make Norfolk a hotbed for the offshore green energy industry - creating hundreds of new jobs.
Council and business bosses believe a transformation of the South Denes area of Great Yarmouth has the potential to bring more renewable energy firms to the county.
Offshore energy projects in the southern North Sea are estimated to be worth more than £39bn in the next 20 years.
And council leaders want to ensure Yarmouth and Norfolk is at centre stage to benefit.
They want to create a Great Yarmouth Operations and Maintenance Campus on the southern tip of the South Denes peninsula.
There would be new pontoons, refurbishment of the river quay and road revamps, opening up land where companies involved in green energy, such as offshore wind farms, could base close to the port and the sea.
Leaders at Norfolk County Council say at least 500 new jobs would be created on almost seven acres of newly available space for offices and stores.
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A report drawn up for members of the county council’s cabinet said it would provide Yarmouth with “a first class facility”.
County Hall and Great Yarmouth Borough Council are ready to put £1m each into the first part of the project, pending a feasibility study.
That study would include the design of the campus, establishing an accurate cost estimate for the project and modelling river flows to ensure it is viable.
The two authorities would share extra rent generated by the campus, above what the borough currently gets from the area.
But it is hoped millions more for the scheme would be obtainable, because the area is within the government’s Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone.
That would mean the county council could borrow money and use income generated by business rates to cover capital costs and pay off interest - if the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership agrees.
Wind farm developer Vattenfall has shown “considerable interest” in the proposals, according to the county council report.
Graham Plant, deputy leader and cabinet member for growing the economy at Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s very early days for this proposal and there’s a lot of work still to be done, but there’s no doubt this is potentially an exciting opportunity that demonstrates the confidence that exists in the energy sector and the important role Great Yarmouth and Norfolk has within it.”