Essex council says wind farm trade trip to China beneficial

A council has said it is confident a £3,500 trade visit to China will bring "clear benefits" to the county's off-shore wind farm industry.

Essex County Council has approved the trip to Jiangsu Province to promote the county's energy sector and sign a trade agreement with the local government.

Conservative councillor Kevin Bentley estimated it would bring about £70,000 investment to the county this year.

Opposition councillors said they would be evaluating the outcome of the visit.

Mr Bentley and two council staff will join members of Norfolk and Suffolk councils to attend several conferences later this month.

'Chase the money'

It is hoped the six-day visit will encourage Chinese investment and export in the East Anglian wind-farm industry.

A memorandum of understanding will also be signed between the county council and Jiangsu provincial government to work together in this sector.

Mr Bentley said: "A £3,500 trip looking to raise £70,000 this year, I think that's a good return. In business you have to chase where the money is and at the moment it's in China.

"Jiangsu Province is one of the leading provinces in China in the wind industry and we're hoping to connect a lot of work with places such as Harwich.

"Hopefully in the next two or three years we'll see a fruition of that and hundreds of jobs pouring into Essex."

Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Mackrory, who sits on the committee which approved the trip, said it would be evaluating the outcomes from the trip.

"We've asked the cabinet member to bring back a report which details the benefits to Essex, so we can evaluate the value of the visit," he said.

The council has had links with Jiangsu Province for 24 years and hosted representatives from its wind power businesses last September.

Previous council estimates have said the offshore wind industry could create 48,000 jobs in East Anglia in 10 years.

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