East Anglia Array wind farm 'must boost local business'
A Suffolk MP has urged the government to help local businesses benefit from the growth of the renewable energy industry along the East coast.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous raised in parliament that the East Anglia Array wind farm offered many potential jobs to people in Suffolk and Norfolk.
Energy Minister Charles Hendry said British companies would be given "every opportunity" to pitch for their firms.
Work on the East Anglia Array is expected to start by 2015.
When built, the series of wind farms about 8.5 miles (14km) off the Suffolk and Norfolk coast will power more than five million homes, according to project leaders ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall.
It is hoped the offshore wind industry will create 48,000 jobs in East Anglia in 10 years, according to councils in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Speaking at Westminster Hall on Tuesday, Mr Aldous said: "It's important that we realise the full potential that this opportunity presents for the East Anglian economy.
"The Thanet wind farm is a great engineering feat, but much of the value generated by that project went to companies outside the UK.
"Lessons must be learnt so we can ensure that our coastal communities, such as that in Lowestoft and Waveney that I represent, benefit fully from this opportunity."
In response, Energy Minister Charles Hendry said he had visited East Anglia and was impressed by the efforts of local businesses to bring work to the region.
"The government is not neutral about this. We are making a very clear message to those who are developing the offshore facilities that we would like them to give British companies every opportunity to pitch for their business," he said.
"My concern is that sometimes they are not even on the tender list."