The new jobs being created from the offshore boom
PUBLISHED: 10:46 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:08 20 March 2019
Companies speak about how they have expanded after winning contracts relating to ScottishPowerRenewables’ East Anglia ONE offshore wind scheme.
East Anglia is at the centre of the offshore wind energy boom with a number of wind farms established off its coast and more in the pipeline.
One of the companies leading this charge is ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) which has several major projects planned for the region including the £2.5bn East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm, located 43km off the Suffolk coast where work has already begun.
According to East Anglia ONE project director Charlie Jordan, ScottishPower Renewables has worked hard to ensure that over 50% of the contracts for work relating to the projects goes to UK firms, especially from the region.
He said: “All companies need to win contracts based on their expertise but we want to give local companies the best opportunity to put themselves forward.”
Here we speak to two businesses from the region working on projects relating to East Anglia ONE.
The Palmer Group - ‘It’s been a big boost’
The Palmer Group is involved with traffic management along the East Anglia ONE cable route, which will eventually connect the wind turbines out at sea with a substation at Bramford. The work includes installing temporary lights and signage about any works affecting a public road, and the temporary installation of passing points for lorries and work vehicles.
According to general manager, Kevan Churchill this work is the largest contract the company has ever undertaken.
“It’s been a big boost,” he said.
“On the back of this we have recruited ten extra members of staff to pick up our day to day work while some of the established team members move across to this contract,” he said.
He said the new recruits were under-going training across the business and he expected them to stay on even after the work on the project comes to an end, which is anticipated to be some time in 2020.
“At that point, the work will be about reverting things back to how they were prior to the scheme starting,” continued Mr Churchill.
“Passing points and parking bays will be reverted back, hedgerows will be planted and new banks built.”
Mr Churchill says his team meets with representatives from Suffolk County Council and ScottishPower Renewables on a fortnightly basis to plan the best approach to reducing congestion and to prepare for any street events, such as Remembrance Sunday, that might require plans to be tweaked.
He added: “The cable route goes through a lot of communities and we want to avoid large construction vehicles going through at these busy times – everything is discussed and well planned out, and we are very proud that everything has run smoothly.”
Stowen Clean Energy - ‘There’s so much activity in the region’
Stowen Clean Energy was established in 2016 to service the fast-growing offshore wind sector, providing access solutions, such as scaffolding, and welding, fabrication and construction services, as well as a host of statutory testing and inspection services that are a requirement for companies working at height and offshore.
Stowen Clean Energy is part of the Stowen Group, which has a heritage of working on oil and gas drilling rigs and employs over 60 technicians working on multi-million pound projects around the world but many of the skills from this sector can be transferred to the offshore wind industry.
“The local region has woken up to the renewable energy sector,“ said technical director for clean energy, Kieron Ford, “The downturn in the oil and gas sector helped the renewable sector because a lot of workers re-skilled themselves and there is now a much large larger pool of qualified workers that have experience to draw from.”
The company has worked on a number of offshore wind farms in the region, including Scroby Sands off the Norfolk Coast, the Galloper wind farm off the Suffolk Coast and the Greater Gabbard wind farm near Harwich.
It is also working on the East Anglia ONE project - providing services onshore - such as welding and fabrication - and carrying out inspections offshore.
Around 20 people are currently employed at its Lowestoft site including a number of apprentices.
Kieron says he has also seen a lot of fishermen retraining and joining the sector.
“There’s so much activity in the region and we can only see it growing,” he said.
“It’s good to be taking on young people who are learning skills and can see a clear career path into the future.”