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Construction finishes on Wells outer harbour

PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:10 07 July 2010

The now complete outer harbour at Wells at low water, with harbour master Robert Smith.

The now complete outer harbour at Wells at low water, with harbour master Robert Smith.

Chris Hill

Construction work has been completed on a new outer harbour in Wells which port authorities hope will welcome a prosperous future into north Norfolk.

Construction work has been completed on a new outer harbour in Wells which port authorities hope will welcome a prosperous future into north Norfolk.

The jetty and 150m of pontoons have been built in a specially-dredged area known as Buxton's Bight, to the east of Beach Road and about a mile away from the main quayside.

The scheme was conceived as a way to improve tidal access times to Wells and was a key factor in the decision of Norwegian-owned energy firm Scira to set up an operational base in the town.

After years of planning and four months of dredging, the structural work on the outer harbour finished yesterday, while mains electricity and water services will be connected by the end of the month.

The first boats are due to arrive at the new pontoons in April for the technicians who will service the 88 turbines of Scira's Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, due to be operational by the end of 2011.

The harbour project, including the purchase and operation of a 200-tonne dredging barge, cost Scira and the Wells Harbour Commissioners about £1.2m.

Harbourmaster Robert Smith said the investment in the town's future was vital to allow Wells - and surrounding communities - the chance to make the most of the expected wind energy boom.

“For me personally, it is my 21st year working on the harbour and the most exciting time now lies ahead,” he said.

“At the moment we are concentrating on the Sheringham Shoal but we expect there is a possibility other wind farms will follow and will want to work from the harbour.

“As long as we do this sensibly and in the right manner - it is the future. It will maintain Wells as a working port and create jobs, and that is what we desperately need; not just in the harbour, or the town, but for Norfolk. That is why we have pushed this so hard.”

The steelwork and piling have been coloured to blend with the background and it is hoped the dredged sand which forms the banks of the marina will take on a more natural, grassed appearance over time.

Last year, Scira bosses hailed the outer harbour scheme, which will provide moorings for up to 20 boats, as a “constructive and inventive” solution to the tidal restrictions at Wells.

Scira's plant manager Einar Strømsvåg said major milestones were rapidly approaching for the Sheringham Shoal wind farm.

Speaking at a meeting of Wells Town Council earlier this month, he said: “I am very proud now because we have passed 25pc progress.

“It is a huge logistical challenge for us and we are producing all the equipment and foundations all over Europe ready for the big project escalation in spring.”

Mr Strømsvåg said the 22km cable which will connect the 88 turbines to the onshore substation at Salle, near Reepham, was half complete and the first giant monopile foundation would be installed in April.

He also said Scira hoped to appoint its first employee to be based onshore in Wells - a marine logistics coordinator - in spring.

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