Harwich: Chinese investment could create ‘thousands’ of jobs

A COASTAL town in north east Essex has taken a major step in securing a multi-million pound Chinese investment which could bring thousands of new jobs to the region.

A delegation of business leaders from Jiangsu Province has visited Harwich International Port with the view to securing a European base for the manufacture of wind-farm equipment.

The visit by the two Chinese companies, which are both involved in offshore wind energy, was organised by Essex County Council (ECC).

Kevin Bentley, county councillor for economic development, said: “This is a very exciting day which stems from meetings we have had with the companies.

“The Chinese are looking to come to Europe and we are persuading them that they should come here, to East Anglia’s energy coast.

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“It is our long-term goal to ensure that this region is at the forefront of offshore energy, not just in this country, but in the world. Today is proof that we are determined to make that happen.”

He added that ECC had a 20-year relationship with the Jiangsu province – the focal point for the Chinese offshore wind energy industry.

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Neil Stock, leader of Tendring District Council, said the potential investment could secure jobs in this region “for a generation”.

The delegation which visited Harwich yesterday and is in Basildon today included representatives from the Nantong Hongbo Wind Power Equipment Company and the Jiangsu Tongguang Photoelectron Company.

George Kieffer, chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership, told the delegates that Harwich had the “best natural harbour in the UK” and was “ideally positioned as a spring board into Europe for projects such as wind energy along the Dutch coast”.

Darren Taylor, general manager of Harwich International Port, said one of the key features of the port was that it was “a naturally protected harbour offering lock-free unrestricted access to the North Sea”.

He added that Harwich was already involved in four major wind-farm projects at Gunfleet Sands, Greater Gabbard, Thanet and London Array.

Peter Cook, of ECC’s skills unit, said: “We are planning to have an additional 700 apprenticeships in Essex relating to the energy sector so that when new investment comes to Essex they have a pipeline of new young talent to recruit from.”

He told delegates: “The biggest message I would like you to leave with is the determination of Essex to make sure we have a highly skilled work force available to you should you come to the UK.”

Huang Hui Xia, vice director of Nantong Bureau of Commerce, said she was pleased to bring the delegation of important investors to the UK.

She said: “I hope we can exchange ideas with Essex County Council and businesses for the development of wind power in this region in the future.”

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