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Norfolk Vanguard will provide a 'vital economic boost' to the county

For five years, Ruari Lean and the Vattenfall team has been planning one of the world’s most ground-breaking wind farms off the Norfolk coast. Despite the disappointing news that its consent was delayed, he is keen to offer reassurance that his team’s work with businesses and communities will continue.
Ruari Lean is positive about the future of the Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm. Picture: Denise Bradley

We had been hoping to be celebrating consent for our Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm with the people of Norfolk.

Bearing the county’s name, Norfolk Vanguard will, alongside its sister project Norfolk Boreas, lead the UK’s drive to net-zero by 2050 and be of huge importance to people’s lives in the local area – providing a vital economic boost as well as the prospect of an exciting future for anyone interested in working in renewable energy.

Designed with pioneering technology to cut the UK’s CO2 emissions and bringing massive investment into local businesses and communities throughout its 25-year lifetime, Norfolk Vanguard is key to achieving government clean air targets and its aim of 40GW installed offshore wind in UK seas by 2030.

But we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has decided to give himself another month to decide. We hope to hear by 1 July.

The delay is an unwelcome set-back, but I want to reassure businesses and communities that we will continue to push forward with our project outside of the planning process.

Vattenfall’s multi-million pound investment in East Anglia, and our work with local students and businesses, will continue.

Much has been said and written in the last month about a green economic recovery from Covid-19. Norfolk Vanguard - and Norfolk Boreas - would be at the forefront of this recovery.

So, while the government focuses on dealing with the pandemic, it will be business as usual for the Norfolk Vanguard team planning the project.

To achieve that, we have already built relationships with 580 companies interested in working on the projects, and communications with them will continue.This includes our work with Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Ports through Peel Ports and ABP, investigating the best solutions to support our Norfolk projects going forward, will also continue as planned.

Local businesses will soon be able to see the scopes of work for the onshore work the project will need - duct installation, drilling and trenchless crossings, site enabling works, and material supply.

More than 20 scopes of work will be released during the summer, which local companies are preparing for.

Contracts worth millions of pounds are also about to start, to ensure we are prepared to comply with planning conditions. These include additional offshore surveys. We have already mobilised some onshore survey teams.

We continue to work on developing skills and employment opportunities for local people, for the construction phase and throughout its more than 25 years of operation. These opportunities are not just for future Vattenfall colleagues, but in partnership with the offshore wind sector and supply chain.

We are contributing to career transition programmes through the Armed Forces Covenant with colleagues from Norfolk County Council, Ministry of Defence, Department for Work and Pensions, New Anglia LEP, East of England Energy Group and others.

We continue to invest in apprenticeships – and have enabled a scheme to share companies’ unallocated Apprenticeship Levy among others within the potential regional supply chain.

Our work with local schools and colleges has continued throughout the lock-down. Currently, we are supporting a group of young people from the University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) to adapt our 3D VR offshore wind development programme to become a remote learning tool. It will be rolled out to other schools and colleagues across East Anglia from September. We will also support summer internships through the Ogden Trust programme again this year.

We are proud to be working in Norfolk with its ambitious and highly skilled supply chain and look forward to continuing for many years to come.