Update: Great Yarmouth chosen as hub for £1.5bn offshore wind farm

Tidal Transit, Eden Rose vessel. Sheringham Shoal. Pic: submitted.

More than 50 jobs could be created in Great Yarmouth to help support a £1.5bn offshore wind farm.

Dudgeon offshore wind farm will be built 32km off the coast of Cromer, comprising up to 170 turbines.

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

And this week the Norwegian firms behind the project - Statoil and Statkraft - named Yarmouth as their preferred base for operation and maintenance activities.

Halfdan Brustad, chairman of Dudgeon Offshore Wind board of directors, 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 to 30 years lifetime of the wind farm. '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.

'Depending on the operations model, there could be between 50 to 70 employees engaged in these activities.'

The operation and maintenance organisation will consist of turbine technicians working offshore and a technical and administrative support staff working onshore.

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Smaller vessels would go to the site on a daily basis, or a larger ship would stay on the site for weeks depending on final plans.

The distance from the coast - the furthest based off East Anglia - means a number of options are under consideration.

Morton Eek, of the Dudgeon offshore wind farm project, said it was too early to predict how many jobs would be based in Yarmouth and how many further jobs could be created in the supply chain.

But he said jobs would be advertised locally, and business leaders have welcomed the announcement.

James Gray, inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone (EEEZ), said: 'This is tremendous news for the region and confirms the potential we all see for Yarmouth to be a leader in the European offshore wind industry.

'Windfarm operations and maintenance work has a lifespan of at least 25 years so will bring long-term investment and jobs into our region and its energy supply chain.

'The news could not have come at a more appropriate time as EEEZ is currently at the world's most important wind industry event - EWEA Frankfurt - promoting resources like our ports along with the quality, experience and skills of the energy supply chain in the East of England.'

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'This is a huge boost to Norfolk and Yarmouth more specifically especially at a time when we are currently promoting the area as a major, credible location to support the energy industry.'

He hoped it would attract interest from other businesses.

Bernard Williamson, cabinet member for transformation and regeneration at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the news is a boost to the recently announced energy park in Yarmouth.

Brandon Lewis, Yarmouth MP, said it was 'brilliant' news and served to raise Yarmouth's profile as an energy hub.

The wind farm was granted consent in 2012, the financial investment decision is planned for late 2014 and the first electricity generation is expected in 2017.

Its owners - Statoil which owns 70pc and Statkraft which owns 30pc - most recently worked together to develop and operate the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm.

Statoil is the manager for both the construction and the operational phase of the Dudgeon wind farm.

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