UK firms becalmed in wind power race

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A MALAISE among Yorkshire’s business world to capitalise on the arrival of multi-billion pound off-shore wind farms could see firms miss out to European rivals, senior industry figures have warned.

Officials overseeing plans to create the world’s largest off-shore wind farm at Dogger Bank, 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast, stressed many companies have yet to make inquiries about the industry’s potential.

While the first turbines are not due to become operational until 2016, major environmental surveys are already under way off the coast and planning applications could be submitted as early as next year.

Scarborough Borough Council’s off-shore wind farm project manager, Alex Richards, said: “The off-shore wind farm industry represents an unprecedented economic opportunity, but not enough people are aware of this.

“Many companies think that it is too early to express an interest, but rival firms on the Continent are clamouring to sign the contracts that are of offer.

“There is a very real danger that Yorkshire’s business world could miss out, despite having the off-shore wind farm literally on its doorstep.”

The Dogger Bank wind farm, which is expected to include up to 2,600 giant 400ft turbines, will cover more than 3,300 sq miles – equivalent to the size of North Yorkshire.

Efforts are being intensified to ensure that the region exploits the full potential of the new industry, with coastal towns seen as vital to providing the vital service support for the wind farm.

More than 140 representatives from construction and engineering businesses were at a networking event in Whitby yesterday to meet officials from Forewind, the firm behind the wind farm proposals, and the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.