‘The whole project is about reducing the carbon footprint yet they choose to waste thousands of litres of fuel by going to Great Yarmouth.’ Wells harbour master criticises company behind plans for £1.5bn offshore wind farm

Harbour Master Robert Smith on Wells Quay. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The economy of Wells and north Norfolk will miss out on millions of pounds after an offshore wind farm company decided to base itself 45 miles away, the town harbourmaster has claimed.

Robert Smith has criticised Dudgeon Offshore Wind Ltd's decision to set up in Great Yarmouth as 'short sighted' and questioned why people behind a project based on reducing the carbon footprint would 'waste thousands of litres of fuel' by choosing to set up on Norfolk's east coast.

The company, which is planning to build the £1.5bn Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, about 20 miles off the north Norfolk coast, says Great Yarmouth meets its special requirements.

The decision comes as the government announced this week that it will increase subsidies for offshore windpower and cut support for onshore wind and solar power.

Mr Smith said: 'Their plan is to use a big hotel ship during the construction phase with workers working 14 days on, 14 days off and they believe the harbour at Wells is not big enough to accommodate that.

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'I completely understand that and see why they didn't choose to work from Wells during the construction phase, but I feel we could certainly accommodate them during the operational phase.

'The whole project is about reducing the carbon footprint yet they choose to waste thousands of litres of fuel by going to Great Yarmouth.

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'It doesn't make sense to me and I believe it is a short sighted decision.'

Mr Smith said north Norfolk would lose out on millions of pounds and many jobs because of the decision.

Dudgeon Offshore Wind Ltd is owned by Statoil and Statkraft.

Mr Smith's open criticism is, perhaps, unexpected because he has worked successfully with the two Norwegian energy companies on the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, through the joint venture company Scira.

He said: 'I know my comments may be seen as controversial but it's just how I feel.

'We are now focusing our energies on the Race Bank Offshore Wind Farm so we just have to respect the decision and move on.'

Dudgeon Offshore Wind Ltd says its wind farm will be located further away from the UK east coast than any other wind farm currently proposed and this raises special requirements relating to vessel performance.

The chairman of Dudgeon Offshore Wind Ltd board of directors, Halfdan Brustad, said: 'We need a harbour with the flexibility to meet the range of concepts under consideration and to accommodate the changes anticipated in vessel solutions as technology develops during the 25-30 year lifetime of the wind farm.

'Great Yarmouth can provide a good location for offices and warehousing on the quayside and a 24/7 harbour to handle the range of vessel categories under consideration'.

The 170-turbine Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm was granted consent in 2012.

Construction of the 400MW facility is anticipated to start in 2016.

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