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Energy industry calls for Eastern promise at Westminster reception

PUBLISHED: 18:24 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:24 06 November 2018

From left, Simon Gray of EEEGR, Stuart Thornton of Fred Olsen Windcarrier, Eric Marston of the Oil and Gas Authority, Julia Pyke of EDF Energy, Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, Jonathan Cole of ScottishPower Renewables, Chris Claydon of the ECITB, Martin Dronfield of James Fisher Marine Services, and Halfdan Brusted of Equinor. Picture TMS Media.

From left, Simon Gray of EEEGR, Stuart Thornton of Fred Olsen Windcarrier, Eric Marston of the Oil and Gas Authority, Julia Pyke of EDF Energy, Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, Jonathan Cole of ScottishPower Renewables, Chris Claydon of the ECITB, Martin Dronfield of James Fisher Marine Services, and Halfdan Brusted of Equinor. Picture TMS Media.

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East Anglia’s energy industry has taken its ambition to be recognised as a centre of excellence straight to the heart of government.

The industry along the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline wants to recognition for its strengths in shallow water and late-life decommissioning and is pushing for an offshore wind sector deal, which would unlock funding for the region.

The issue was raised with ministers at a Westminster reception organised by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR).

Simon Gray, chief executive of EEEGR, said: “There is a real opportunity for the energy industry in the eastern region to become a world leader in shallow water and late life decommissioning and we have taken that message direct to government.

“Our ambition for the region to have special recognition status will go to the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and will form the energy part of its industrial strategy.”

More than £3bn will be invested in the Southern North Sea by 10 leading operators in the next few years and a potential 33,000 new jobs could be created. Sizewell C will put £4bn into the local economy over the life of the project and 3,200 people are already employed at the site on the Suffolk coast.

Speakers at the event included Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Chris Claydon, chief executive of the Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), Jonathan Cole, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, and Julia Pyke, nuclear development director for EDF Energy on Sizewell C nuclear power station. Eric Marston, an area manager at the Oil and Gas Authority, and Halfdan Brusted, Equinor’s offshore wind project vice president also spoke.

Mr Claydon said the labour market was changing rapidly and the energy sector had to recognise the challenges.

Just 7% of people in the engineering and construction industry are women, he said, and by failing to appeal to a wider demography it was “losing out on a huge amount of intellectual capital”.

“We are already seeing an outflow of skilled people and this may increase ahead of March next year,” he said.

“We need to grow the number of apprentices and graduates and we also need to get skilled workers to join from other sectors.”

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