Incentives from the Budget will help steer the East of England ever closer to becoming the heart of the UK offshore wind industry.
A three-year extension on business rate discounts for companies moving to the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone was among the Chancellor’s measures in what is predicted to be a pivotal year for the region.
James Gray, inward investment director for the East of England Energy Zone, was delighted with the latest incentives in what he had already described as “a breakthrough year in moving the heart of the offshore windpower sector into our region.”
He added: “The Chancellor’s timing is excellent with many big decisions in the offing for windfarms off the East of England coastline in 2014, giving potential investors the opportunity to take up the additional benefits offered by the Enterprise Zone.”
The Budget also offered encouragement for the region’s supply chain, skills drive, exporters and resurgent offshore gas industry.
Mr Gray said the announcements built on earlier good news for the region’s windpower sector which included:
– Statoil’s confirmation that Great Yarmouth port will be the base for its operations and maintenance (O&M) work on Dudgeon windfarm off Norfolk
– Galloper Offshore Wind Farm’s agreement to locate its O&M base at Lowestoft, which already has the same the role for the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm
– Iberdrola’s Jonathan Cole saying that the 7200MW East Anglia Offshore Windfarm Zone could become an international flagship for the industry, as it is the perfect zone for reducing the cost of windfarm development – imperative for the industry’s future success.
Mr Gray praised the efforts of the New Anglia LEP and local MPs for their determined lobbying on behalf of the Enterprise Zone incentive which was due to expire early next year.
Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “We wrote to the Chancellor making a strong and robust case for business rates concession and therefore we are encouraged that he has listened and there will be an extension for a further three years.
“Business will be encouraged that measures will be put in place to introduce a £7 billion package to cut energy costs for manufacturers and to double the lending available for export finance.” he continued.
“New Anglia is home to the East of England Energy Zone and hundreds of firms are proud exporters around the world and these announcements will make a difference.”
The Zone’s ambition is to create 9,000 new jobs by 2025.