Norfolk & Suffolk’s energy industry is “open for business” but could miss out on billions of pounds of investment and a jobs bonanza due to delays on major offshore wind and other projects, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has warned.
Reviews into proposed infrastructure schemes such as Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas wind farms must be concluded quickly to avoid damaging investor confidence and opportunities being lost for local businesses, jobs and skills, the LEP and partner organisations have said in an open letter to Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Senior Government officials from relevant departments are being urged to regularly attend and participate in the region’s All Energy Industry Council, enabling strategic discussion around crucial issues such as supply chain, skills and innovation.
Meanwhile, Norfolk & Suffolk should be designated the UK Integrated Energy Systems Region, piloting improvements in energy generation and distribution in rural areas. This would support the development and growth of a cross-sector clean growth supply chain, identifying the best opportunities around energy security, desalination, hydrogen, decarbonisation, utilities, agri-tech, aqua-tech, electric vehicle infrastructure, residential and commercial smart grids.
For over six decades, the region has been at the forefront of delivering energy for the nation and it is a global leader in offshore wind. It is predicted that £78.51bn will be invested in offshore wind in the eastern region and £138.541bn for all energy between now and 2050.
However, to fully capitalise on these opportunities and play its part in delivering the Government’s own Net Zero targets, it needs “greater clarity on delivery timescales across the energy pipeline”.
With the long-awaited decision on Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas wind farms due any day and EDF seeking consent for the Sizewell C nuclear power station, the LEP has warned of the dangers posed by delays to such significant developments.
“Not only are delays detrimental to the regional economy and local communities, but to the UK as a whole and our collective ambitions to deliver the Net Zero Strategy,” says the LEP.
“We respect that due process must be followed in all cases; however, government must ensure the ongoing Norfolk Vanguard review and any future reviews are concluded quickly to give confidence to all future energy projects.
“Delays affect investor confidence and could lead to the developer and the region potentially missing out on future CfD (Contracts for Difference) opportunities, further negatively impacting the opportunities for local companies, local jobs and skills.”
The letter sets out in detail the huge successes already delivered by the region’s energy industry, the scale of the sector and its contribution to UK Plc, as well as the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.
“We are open for business; can genuinely deliver much needed levelling up in communities where this generation takes place; and provide more momentum behind our globally important clean energy sector which delivers much of the nation’s energy,” says the LEP.