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Swedish wind farm in Thanet run by Kent workforce

By Oliver Kemp

A Scandinavian wind turbine farm 12km off the Thanet coast is now being operated and maintained by people from Kent.

Vattenfall, an energy company founded in Sweden, has steadily grown a team of local turbine technicians, operations staff, and warehouse operatives at the Ramsgate headquarters.

When the wind farm opened in 2010, the majority of the workforce was made up of contractors from abroad.

How Kent keeps the county's wind turbines turning

Melanie Rogers, the communications officer at Vattenfall Ramsgate, said it was important to the company to train new staff from the local area.

"When wind farms first arrived in the UK we didn't have experienced staff to run them, so they sent a lot of Danish staff to get it up and running," she said.

"Gradually over the years we've employed new people and they've worked their way up the career ladder.

"And now the young local lads I was talking to about wind turbines are running the show, which is really nice to see."

Technicians prepare to go offshore. Photo by Edward Thompson
Technicians prepare to go offshore. Photo by Edward Thompson

The company is trying to keep its supply chain as local as possible by working with local organisations rather than importing parts from other countries.

Bosses are also in talks with local education establishments to offer apprenticeships and training courses in the future to combat an ageing workforce.

"It's really up to us as developers to really push that forward, going to the schools and talking to educational establishments to make sure that's in place," said Ms Rogers.

Adam Redding, from Herne Bay, decided to retrain at 33 years of age and now works as a turbine technician on the wind farm.

The turbines are 12 kilometres away from the Thanet coast. Photo by Edward Thompson
The turbines are 12 kilometres away from the Thanet coast. Photo by Edward Thompson

He commonly gets surprised reactions when talking about his job.

"People are often taken aback by it," he said.

"Because it's quite a new industry it's seen as that heavy offshore, kind of wild environment.

"Although the wind industry in the UK is growing, it's still quite a rare job."

There are 100 turbines on the Thanet windfarm. Photo by Edward Thompson
There are 100 turbines on the Thanet windfarm. Photo by Edward Thompson

Jennifer Roberts, who used to be a student at King Ethelbert's School in Birchington, now works as a marine co-ordinator at the Ramsgate headquarters.

Her role is to constantly monitor the vessels offshore and keep the team aware of any incoming weather warnings.

"Everyone's really local so if anything happens we can act on it and get people in at short notice as well," she said.

"I think it's great that people from this area have opportunities with Vattenfall."

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