A wind farm that would provide more than 10 per cent of the UK’s energy needs could be constructed in 2015, and councillors say they are optimistic that Whitby could greatly benefit.
The £40bn Dogger Bank wind farm project is scheduled to get underway in 2015 and when complete it will cover an area larger than North Yorkshire.
The project has been discussed for so long, with very little movement, that some had begun to doubt whether it would ever come to fruition. However, at a Northern Area Committee meeting on July 23, borough councillor’s heard an optimistic report that suggested Whitby may still be in for a huge windfall.
The report by Alex Richards, project manager at the borough council, suggests that up to 1,500 vessels would be needed to service the wind farms, and said the council has received every indication that Whitby will be heavily involved in this.
West Cliff councillor Alf Abbott said he was staying open-minded about the project. “When it starts to happen then we will know where we are, but I am optimistic,” he said, adding: “Whitby needs these things, but we can’t put all our eggs in one basket with the wind farms. We have fishing, tourism, yachts. Wind farms aren’t the bees knees, the be all and end all.
“But it’s a big site, so if we can get a slice of that then it will be good for the town.”
As the closest port to the Dogger Bank developments, Whitby is in an ideal position to exploit the opportunities. To support the developments there will be a need for land-based services and support during construction and on-going operational maintenance support throughout the wind farm’s lifespan.
Harbour board chair Mike Cockerill said: “I am still very optimistic, but until somebody signs an agreement to use the harbour, who knows?”
In the mean time, the borough council and Whitby Harbour Board’s responsibility is to restore the harbour to a well-maintained state, which would be more attractive for the developers. Coun Cockerill added: “There are many areas in the harbour that have been lacking in maintenance and gradually I am trying to enable works to be done.”
Among these works are the £75,000 repairs to Endeavour Wharf, with applications being prepared to secure further funding to allow maintenance elsewhere in the harbour.
Coun Cockerill said: “Anybody coming ashore will pay harbour dues and landing fees to us so they would expect the harbour to be fit for purpose.
“So I want to endeavour as much as we can with the limited resources we have, so it wouldn’t be lack of maintenance that stops people using Whitby.”
The Offshore Wind industry has been boosted by the release of the Government’s Energy Bill and construction of the Dogger Bank and Hornsea wind farms are scheduled to commence in 2015. However, the projects have been delayed in the past, and it is possible this may occur again.
Despite this, the borough council and Whitby Harbour Board say they have been working continuously to promote the potential of Whitby to the wind industry.
As a result, the borough council report states that a number of investment opportunities are underway and it suggests that within the next 18 months there will be a noticeable increase in activities relating to the offshore wind industry in the port.