Offshore wind project creates £8.6m fund to boost local economy

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 15 Jul 2015 11:39, Last updated: 2015-07-15
Developers deliver skills boost to the South Coast
Developers deliver skills boost to the South Coast

The developers of the Navitus Bay project have announced the creation of £8.6 million in funding for skills and supply chain engagement as part of its commitment to maximise the benefits felt across the South Coast from the proposed offshore wind park.

Local employers and training providers will have access to the £4.3 million Skills Fund. It will enable the skills and employment needs of the project – and offshore wind in the country more generally – to be met.

To facilitate the distribution of funding, Navitus Bay has also set up a Skills Forum, which meets later today in Dorset. This Forum consists of representatives from local councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships, employment and skills boards, Higher and Further Education bodies, as well as representatives from Tier 1 project suppliers.

The £4.3 million Supply Chain Engagement Fund will be used to promote and support supply chain opportunities for local businesses in the area. Navitus Bay has engaged extensively with the local business community to ensure that the economic benefits of the project are felt across the region.

The announcement follows on from the highly successful ‘Meet the Buyer’ event at SeaWork 2015 in Southampton in June. This provided over 100 local businesses with a chance to find more about supply chain opportunities and meet MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, the preferred turbine supplier.

The funding will be made fully available if the project achieves development consent, due to be announced in September.

Mike Unsworth, Project Director of Navitus Bay, said: “Navitus Bay is committed to ensuring that the economic benefits of the project are felt across the South Coast. This includes opening up supply chain opportunities to the local business community and ensuring that the skills and training needed to ensure job creation are provided.

“The creation of £8.6 million in funding will ensure that these opportunities are maximised and that the local authorities, employment bodies and business representatives can be involved in the process.”

Chris Brammall, Economic Development Project Officer, Isle of Wight Council, added: "For the region to gain maximum economic benefit from this exciting project, it is vital that the necessary skills are in place. Navitus Bay working with their partners in the Skills Forum will ensure that this is the case."

However, the leader of Bournemouth Borough Council, Councillor John Beesley commented: “Navitus Bay will cause ten job losses for every one that it might create.

"An £8.6 million skills and supply chain engagement fund does little to allay the £6.3 billion national economic loss this deeply unpopular and flawed development is forecast to bring.

"It is disappointing and critical to note that the draft s.106 agreement does not include a tourism fund to address the tourism mitigation and compensation issues raised by the resorts around Poole Bay. There remains a fundamental disagreement between Bournemouth Borough Council and EDF Energy / Eneco’s Navitus Bay as to the extent of financial impact on the tourism economy.

"The tourism businesses in the destination areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Purbeck have identified £975 million as the figure necessary to address the tourism mitigation and give a chance of replacing the forecast losses in tourism business over the 30 year life of the project.

"Navitus Bay continues to ignore the fact that almost 5,000 jobs will be lost across Dorset if its offshore wind farm is developed. Its own research forecasts a 20-32% drop in visitor numbers. Changing the core appeal of the tourism offer by industrialising this beautiful coastal setting with vast, highly visible turbines will have an unprecedented and deeply damaging effect on our local economy and jobs.”

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