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17 March 2012, 08:47
Major opportunities of more that £271bn for Norfolk and Suffolk's energy supply chain have been mapped out in a new report commissioned by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance.
The scope and scale of planned developments in the region's energy sector, means that companies across Norfolk and Suffolk are presented with a host of new business opportunities. The benefits could be enormous promoting economic growth, creating thousands of new jobs and securing many existing positions, in high value low carbon sectors in which the two counties already employ 19,000 people, in some 1100 companies.
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 Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance, a public and private sector coalition of Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, Great Yarmouth Borough, Waveney District Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers of Commerce, East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership are working collaboratively in driving growth and development to maximise the potential for the two counties in the rapidly growing energy industry.
Judy Terry, Portfolio Holder for Greenest County, Economy and Skills at Suffolk County Council, said "The energy industry in our two counties offers such significant opportunities for businesses. We are already positioning Norfolk and Suffolk as key drivers for the UK's green economy building on the area's rich history in nuclear and offshore operations, innovation and technology, coupled with world class credentials in automotive design, engineering and manufacturing which give us a unique offering."
John Best, Chief Executive of EEEGR said "Nowhere in the UK has a broader energy mix or provides as much business potential as Norfolk and Suffolk. The area's offshore gas industry is still growing after 50 years and the region sits at the heart of the world's largest market for offshore wind. Nuclear power facilities are being decommissioned and a new site at Sizewell is planned for development. With a growing bio-fuels market and plans for the storage of gas and captured carbon in the Southern North Sea, the area has an energy business worth billions."
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. We have a wealth of world class expertise that is renowned the world over, with a reputation for innovative technology and engineering. We also have a diverse local supply chain, ready to adapt. This is a combination that nowhere else can match"
The report identifies that limited levels of manufacturing and engineering capability in terms of key component manufacture and construction is a key weakness of the UK supply chain across the energy industry and its sub-sectors. As for responding to this challenge, the Enterprise Zone for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft will play a key role in stimulating investment in new facilities and business growth. This is further enhanced with the announcement in December that the two towns are one of only five Centres of Offshore Renewable Engineering, ensuring enhanced support from Government to attract key engineering manufacturing businesses to setup and locate in the area.
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said "Given our close proximity to the offshore energy markets, and the breadth of experience within our business community, it's no surprise that energy is one of our two top priorities for economic growth, along with the tourism sectors. With more than £271 billion pounds 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."
The report forms the basis of a detailed implementation plan which brings together a wide range of partners who will secure appropriate resource and deliver support to Norfolk and Suffolk businesses to maximise their potential and secure long term low carbon economic growth.