The NCI Coastwatch Lookout at Wells is to get an £8,000 major upgrade - paid for by the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm developers. .
The improvements will significantly up the safety factor for harbour and beach users, and in return the volunteer watchkeepers will house sophisticated new equipment for the wind farm developers, and keep daytime watch over the new jetty and pontoons to be constructed at the RNLI lifeboat-station end of the harbour.
The Lookout originally built for HM Coastguard faces north with a view only seawards and along the line of the beach.
As part of the upgrade a window will be installed at the rear of the building with view south over the harbour all the way to the Quay.
At the same time, 24-hour CCTV cameras will be mounted on the roof, with monitors and new communications equipment inside.
Activity at the new jetty can then be watched and recorded, and the communications equipment will give Sheringham Shoal accurate long-range control of state-of-the-art dredging equipment which will deepen the entrance to the harbour to give all vessels a longer tidal window.
Announcement of the grant to NCI Coastwatch this week was widely welcomed as another step towards a partnership between the wind farm developers, the harbour and the town, recently described as "a safeguard for the continuation of Wells as a working port".
Robust proposals for the Lookout upgrade had originally come from NCI Coastwatch. Management committee spokesman Peter Henley told the developer's project manager for the channel deepening and outer jetty work Charlie Ward that the watchkeepers were enthusiastic to support the channel project, "within the constraint of maintaining the NCI core activity", and had been given the backing of Natural England and the Holkham Estate manager for preliminary work to clear dead trees and undergrowth behind the Lookout that obscured the harbour view.
This week Sheringham Shoal plant manager Einar Strømsvâg described the planned Lookout improvements as "mutually beneficial".
"The wind farm operation and maintenance activities will be run out of Wells for at least 50 years," he said.
The pontoon and jetty will be used by Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm as well as - potentially - other wind farm developers in the longer-term.
"They will also be available for recreational and other commercial use - so the wind farm will be part of the local community.
"We are therefore delighted to support - and have the support of - NCI Coastwatch who are already making a valued contribution to the safety of Wells harbour and beaches."
Work on the Lookout improvements are due to start next month and will include double-glazing to stop misting in cold weather.
"To help minimise the costs we plan to use our own unpaid volunteers to carry out any internal decoration required, as well as leveling the ground outside, laying paving slabs and erecting a new metal shed," said Peter Henley.
"But this cash grant is really good news for us and everyone who enjoys the benefits - and risks - of using the beach and harbour. We will have a much clearer view of the area and be able to respond more quickly if an incident develops that requires the assistance of any of the 'blue light' services."
Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm is equally owned by Statoil and Statkraft through joint venture company Scira Offshore Energy Ltd.