People of Norfolk and Suffolk to have their say on plans for major offshore windfarm

A developer planning to build the UK's second largest windfarm off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk says the region has the knowledge, experience and understanding to support the growing energy sector.

Speaking today at the launch of a public consultation into the major proposals, the man overseeing the East Anglia ONE Offshore Windfarm project said the people of East Anglia had valuable 'offshore experience'.

Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) and Vattenfall hope to develop, build and generate up to 7,200 megawatts of electricity in the 6,000sq km zone off Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. It would be the second biggest offshore grid, behind the Dogger Bank facility near Newcastle.

Project manager Rick Campbell said it was too early to say how many turbines would be built or how many local jobs the scheme would create if given the go-ahead, but hoped to engage with all sectors of the community before filing planning permission towards the end of next year.

He said: 'We're very fortunate that in East Anglia there's good offshore experience and people have an understanding of what we're trying to do.

'When we submit the planning application that will give people a better idea of where we're going to connect the wind farms to the grid and the number of turbines.'

It was revealed late last year that SPR had signed agreements to connect the electricity to the National Grid at Lowestoft and Norwich. It had already secured a link through a sub station at Bramford, near Ipswich.

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The first phase of the scheme, branded East Anglia ONE, would be built around 43km (25 miles) off the north Suffolk coast, covering an area of 300 sq km.

There are six phases in total and planning applications are expected to be submitted every 18 months.

'We're going to be here, not for a few years, but for decades,' said Mr Campbell. 'SPR and Vattenfall are here for the long term.'

During the launch at the Orbis Energy Centre in Lowestoft – in the shadow of the Gulliver turbine, Mr Campbell met members of the public to discuss the East Anglia Offshore Windfarm plans. Described as a 'consultation on the consultation process', the main aim was to find out how the public want to engage with SPR – be it through the website, local media or public sessions. A similar meeting is taking place at Ipswich Town Football Club today.