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East of England Energy Group hosts conference attended by Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng and Vattenfall's UK manager

Planning processes for offshore wind farms, including those along the east of England coast, need to be timely, according to an industry expert.

And country manager for European energy company Vattenfall UK, Danielle Lane has also highlighted the need for major investment at ports which are key to the development of the industry.

She was speaking this week at the Southern North Sea energy conference organised by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) and attended by Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng.

Danielle Lane, Swedish energy group Vattenfall's UK country manager (42302621)
Danielle Lane, Swedish energy group Vattenfall's UK country manager (42302621)

A “fit for purpose” offshore wind planning regime is crucial if the UK is to meet its clean energy targets, she said.

Ms Lane, who is head of market development offshore said: “If we are going to meet net zero, we need to be in a position to make decisions in a timely manner.

“Offshore wind projects are long lead. We are talking seven to ten years from concept to delivery. We need efficient decision-making now if we are going to make any impact on our 2030 targets, to install 40GW of offshore wind generation."

Highlighting Vattenfall’s own experiences in the east of England through the consenting process for the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farms, Ms Lane said projects could happen faster.

“We have taken on board comments and made adjustments both on and off-shore to our designs, to accommodate different stakeholder wishes and make our projects locally and environmentally sensitive," she said.

“We need to make sure that good projects come through and we resolve conflicts as they arise with all of the stakeholders. It can be done through good engagement and consultation, but we need to recognise that compromise is needed.”

Investment in and development of east of England ports is also key to exploiting the full potential “as a country and as an industry” she said, adding that ports are at the heart of what the industry could deliver to make the step from a “fossil-fuel-based economy to something more green.”

“Ports in East Anglia have to gear up and be enabled to grasp the opportunities we have been seeing further up the coast. For operations and maintenance, they will be core to offshore wind in the future,” she said.

“We need to see a big investment into the supply chain, and we will be supporting that and also for other sectors like ports. Offshore wind is a global industry so how can the UK position itself to build on the knowledge and expertise, and how can we export that and create additional value for the UK?”

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