A fantastic opportunity

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SCARBOROUGH Borough Council is pushing ahead in its bid to attract millions of pounds of investment into Whitby through the windfarm industry.

Plans are already well advanced for the creation of a 3,300 square mile windfarm at Dogger Bank which would include up to 2,600 giant 400ft turbines, 60 miles or around three hours off the Whitby coast.

And the borough council, along with the town’s newly-formed harbour board, is doing all it can to make sure Whitby is included in the plans, which could create up to 25,000 jobs in manufacturing and the supply chain.

They have already been consulting with businesses in the area, including Parkol Marine, which could service the windfarm, which would deliver around 10% of the UK’s electricity requirements.

It is likely logistics would be brought into Whitby by road and the council is also in talks with the rail industry.

The consortia Forewind is seeking all the necessary consents for the construction and development of Dogger Bank up to the point of an investment decision which is not expected until late 2014.

Speaking at a town council meeting on Tuesday, SBC’s strategic director of operations David Archer responded to some councillors who claimed it was unlikely the town would figure in the plans.

Mr Archer said: “From my understanding and preliminary talks with the industry I wouldn’t be dismissive of Whitby as a harbour. At the end of the day the people that will make the decision are the offshore wind farm companies.

“I would make a plea to the town council this is a fantastic opportunity and we should be taking the opportunities this investment will bring.

“We shouldn’t be dismissive. If we can pull this thing off, this will be the biggest boost to this economy for generations.”

But Coun Bob Sigsworth said: “The only thing Whitby could be useful for is rapid deployment of staff but it’s not an all weather port.

“Whitby has no chance of any commerical shipping coming into the town. I’m sad to say it but that’s the situation.

“Whitby is the third most popular resort in Britain, that is where the money lies.

“I still say it isn’t going to happen. We’ve got four trawlers here, they are all up for sale.”

Also speaking at the meeting was Laurie Farmer, acting chairman of the harbour board, which has still yet to reach an agreement with SBC as to which assets in the harbour it will be responsible for.

A spokesman for the council said the memorandum of understanding, setting out the rules and responsibilities of the council and the harbour board is close to being finalised.

Mr Farmer, who has experience in the windfarm industry, said: “We have no model yet for what they will be using out on Dogger Bank.

“We want to be the operations and logistics hub for people coming out. That will generate a lot of money.

“There is business here that will run for 30, 40 to 50-plus years.

“There’s enough business for all this coastal strip to benefit.”

Mr Farmer added the new board has big plans for the harbour including trying to re-attract cargo as well as working with pleasure vessel owners and Whitby’s skippers.

The borough council still has £300,000 of Yorkshire Forward Funding left from the marina project and the harbour board will be consulting shortly as to how the money will be spent.

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