Norfolk and Suffolk needs help tapping into �30bn energy opportunities

Greater levels of support and guidance are needed if businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk are to be able to tap into the �30bn of opportunities in the UK's energy supply chain, a new report has warned.

The study by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance, a public/private coalition of councils and business groups and the New Anglia LEP, said with around a third of our energy generated from renewables, a third from natural gas and a third from existing nuclear power the two counties have a strong platform on which to build.

The energy industry employs more than 18,000 people across both counties, with 1,145 companies active in the sectors and a combined turnover of �2.8m a year.

And the report sets out a series of key objectives including supporting local companies to become part of the supply chain; promoting innovation and the commercialisation of ideas; boosting skills; and championing the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft enterprise zone to help attract inward investment.

Transport links, broadband networks, and the existing capacity of the national grid are also identified as barriers which need to be overcome if the two counties are to make the most of the opportunities ahead.

It also said nowhere in the UK has a broader energy mix or provides as much business potential as Norfolk and Suffolk, but in order to secure a place for the UK as a global centre for low carbon industries, the focus must be on low carbon energy sectors where there are clear competitive advantages, such as offshore wind, marine energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, bio-energy, other onshore renewable technologies, and specialist financial and business services.

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said: 'With more than �271bn worth of new business prospects across the UK, of which �30bn is projects within Norfolk and Suffolk over the next 10 years, there are significant opportunities that we must ensure we are ready to deliver on.'

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Ann Steward, Cabinet member for Economic Development on Norfolk County Council, said: 'It is hard to overstate the importance of the energy industry in our two counties. It has helped us withstand some of the effects of the economic downturn over the past few years and it now appears ready to ensure it can exploit the anticipated benefits of the �billions that will be invested over the next 10 years.'

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