MANY of the skills needed to create and operate the world’s biggest offshore wind farm 80 miles off the region’s coast may be sourced abroad, the Government has been warned.

A consultation is under way into the proposal to erect 2,600 turbines at Dogger Bank, which would become the UK’s largest engineering project.

The wind farm, covering a 3,475sq mile section of the North Sea, an area the size of North Yorkshire, would be capable of supplying ten per cent of the nation’s total energy by 2020 – with the potential to create 100,000 jobs.

Alex Richards, project manager at Scarborough Borough Council, was among a delegation from the region which met ministers and MPs in Westminster, on Wednesday, to outline the need for Government assistance.

He said: “It will benefit all the economies on the other side of the North Sea and not the UK economy if we don’t get it right. It will all be sourced from Germany, France and Holland. They have the supply chain and skills to support it.”

The delegation, representing 22 councils from Yorkshire and the Humber, highlighted the projects four biggest obstacles: 􀁥 Ensuring the National Grid can “hook up” to the new energy supply; 􀁥 Simplifying the planning process to deal with a raft of large scale industrial developments and infrastructure.

􀁥 Tackling the employment and skills shortage in technology and engineering; 􀁥 Creating a supply chain for equipment and parts.

If approved, the consortium behind the scheme, Forewind, which includes Npower, Scottish and Southern plus Norwegian energy companies Statoil and Statkraft, plan to start work in 2015.

“The implications of getting this right are fantastic and the implications of getting it wrong are also phenomenal,”

said Mr Richards.

“We just need the right policy to come out of the Government and UK industry.

We’re not just talking about building wind turbines, we’re talking about everything – the nuts, bolts, parts, personnel.”

However, Stockton MP Alex Cunningham said there were many in the region ready to meet the shortfall in engineering knowhow, such as Tag Energy Solutions in the Tees Valley, which has invested £20m in facilities for making off-shore wind structures.

Teesside still has this amazing resource of high quality engineers who are still world beaters in building bridges and North Sea oil platforms, but the amount of work for them at the moment is low.

There’s no reason at all why they can’t become the powerhouse of engineering again.”

Planning permission will ultimately come from the Crown Estate, once marine, archaeological, geological and other surveys are complete and local consultations taken place.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has announced £20m for skills to support economic growth and had created 2,000 training places in renewable energy skills.