East of England Energy Group puts region’s case at Westminster

East Anglia’s energy industry ambition to be recognised as a centre of excellence in shallow water and late life decommissioning has been taken to the heart of government.

An Offshore Wind Sector Deal for the cluster across the region was also called for at the Westminster reception on Tuesday (30 October) organised by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), which brought together key figures from all sectors of the region’s energy sector.

Speakers at the event were: Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, Chris Claydon, chief executive of the Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), Jonathan Cole, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, Julia Pyke, head of power and renewables at Herbert Smith Freehills and adviser to EDF Energy on the Sizewell C nuclear power station, Eric Marston, area manager SNS and EIS at the Oil and Gas Authority, and Halfdan Brusted, Equinor’s offshore wind project vice president.

Simon Gray, chief executive of EEEGR, said: “There is a real opportunity for the energy industry in the eastern region to become a world leader in shallow water and late life decommissioning and we have taken that message direct to government.

“Our ambition for the region to have special recognition status will go to the East Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and will form the energy part of its industrial strategy.”

More than £3 billion will be invested in the Southern North Sea by 10 leading operators in the next few years and a potential 33,000 new jobs could be created. Sizewell C will put £4 billion into the local economy over the life of the project and 3,500 people are already employed at the site on the Suffolk coast.

Chris Claydon said the labour market was changing rapidly and the energy sector had to recognise the challenges and move to meet them. Just seven per cent of people in the engineering and construction industry were women and by failing to appeal to a wider demography, it was “losing out on a huge amount of intellectual capital”.

“We face a problem,” said Mr Claydon. “Competition for skilled workers is increasing and in a tightening labour market there is a risk that exiting the EU will exacerbate the problem. We are already seeing an outflow of skilled people and this may increase ahead of March next year.

“We need to grow the number of apprentices and graduates and we also need to get skilled workers to join from other sectors.”

The event was sponsored by ScottishPower Renewables, Equinor, James Fisher Marine, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, SZC, Oil & Gas Authority.