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Multi million pound investment set for Yarmouth wind power

PUBLISHED: 09:32 17 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:46 17 September 2010

Yarmouth has taken a big step towards becoming a prosperous hub for wind energy following a huge new investment.

The announcement of a multi-million pound office and warehouse complex next to the outer harbour comes from turbine installation industry leader Seajacks.

The company confirmed this week it is poised to sign a land deal to move from Gorleston’s Beacon Innovation Centre to the new site by June next year.

Managing director Blair Ainslie said: “This will represent a big step for Yarmouth, with the construction of a new 12,000sq ft office building and a warehouse virtually the same size.”

Mr Ainslie was the inspiration behind Seajacks’ two futuristic, $150m self-propelled jack-up vessels – Kraken and Leviathan – designed to install turbines without the need for accompanying barges.

With Seajacks now looking well-placed to win work on the 1,500 turbine East Anglia Array windfarm when work starts in 2015, Mr Ainslie is confident about further rapid expansion to the company which now has a turnover of £70m.

He said that a third, bigger jack-up vessel, capable of transporting four turbines instead of two, was already on offer from the same Dubai shipyard and they had an option on a fourth to arrive by 2012; their aspiration was to have six vessels by 2015.

Seajacks currently employs about 125 people and such expansion would lead to a significant number of new jobs.

“We are always looking to take new people on and have got jobs advertised this week,” he said.

Mr Ainslie’s commercial director Sebastian Brooke is confident other local firms can replicate Seajacks’ success as the offshore wind industry takes off, leading to the regeneration of areas such as South Denes.

Highlighting the scale of the opportunity, he said: “East Anglia Array will be almost 10 times the size of the Greater Gabbard windfarm being built off the Suffolk coast.

“Construction will be going on from 2015 to 2023 and then there will be 20 years of operation and maintenance after that.”

He stressed that further opportunities would abound as neighbouring countries such as Holland, Denmark and Germany also geared up for wind turbines.

Eddie Freeman, chief executive of EastPort, hailed the announced move of Seajacks as “a further endorsement of what the outer harbour was put together to support”.

“The outer harbour will not only bring in more shipping but it is also a catalyst for inward investment for companies that are port-related,” he said.

Mr Freeman and Mr Ainslie announced earlier this year that Seajacks’ vessels would be berthed in the outer harbour when they were not operating.


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