Wind energy boost for outer harbour

PLANS to turn Great Yarmouth's outer harbour into a hub for the emerging wind energy market were given a boost this week after a shipping firm was given the go-ahead to build a new HQ.

Specialist firm Seajacks, which supplies the wind energy industry, will be building a new three-storey 22,000sq ft base next to the outer harbour at South Denes after the borough council approved the development plans on Tuesday .

The company, which currently has its HQ at Beacon Innovation Park, believes there could be the potential to increase staffing levels from 25 to 75 by moving to the South Denes base, which is needed because the rapidly-expanding firm has outgrown its Gorleston home.

Seajacks specialises in ships that allow wind turbines to be constructed and erected at sea.

The firm's managing director, Blair Ainslie, said: 'We are extremely pleased that planning permission has been granted for our new headquarters in Great Yarmouth.

'It seems like only yesterday when we were one man and a mobile phone. That was 2007, today we employ 150 staff, have two vessels working and a third on the way.

'Great Yarmouth has always been our home, but the establishment of these purpose-built facilities shows our further and continuing commitment to the region.

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'It is no accident we have chosen to be located adjacent to the Outer Harbour. We see it as our home port and recognise that it is an excellent facility which is perfectly placed to take advantage of the opportunities which will come to us and the region not only in offshore wind, but in servicing the southern gas basin too.

'These are exciting times and we are very pleased to be playing our part.'

Four Gorleston residents in High Street wrote to the council's development control committee objecting to having the three-storey development opposite their homes on the brown field site close to Yarmouth power station, claiming it would block their sea view.

However, the council's development control manager Dean Minns told Tuesday's meeting it was difficult to determine what weight to attach to the 'right to a view.'

Yarmouth mayor Michael Jeal, who does not sit on the committee, but attended the meeting, said nearby firm C-Mac Microtechnology had also raised concerns they would be affected by piledriving taking place at the development site.

However, representatives of contractors Chaldean Properties, who will build the Seajacks HQ, said no piling would be taking place at the site.

Garry Ellis, development manager for Chaldean Properties, told the meeting: 'We hope that this entirely privately financed project will act as a benchmark in attracting companies to the area.

'We trust you share our confidence and optimism for the future.'