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World’s biggest wind farm planned for London

The Independent: World’s biggest wind farm planned for London

By Helen McCormack

08 June 2005

Plans have been submitted to build the world’s biggest wind farm in the Thames estuary. It is designed to generate enough electricity to supply a quarter of London homes.

The complex, named the London Array, is predicted to cost £1.5bn to build and would be capable of meeting 10 per cent of the Government’s target to have 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity generated by renewable energy resources by 2010.

If permission is granted to build the farm, 270 turbines, each 300ft (100m) in height would be constructed over 152 sq miles (245 sq km) 12 miles off the Kent coast. The proposals were submitted by a consortium formed by the energy companies, Shell, E.On Renewables and an Anglo-Danish company, Core.

They have, however, raised concerns over the possible impact on local wildlife and the environment. But the director of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, said that projects such as the London Array were “urgently required” to tackle the problem of carbon dioxide emissions.

The right to lease the offshore site was secured 18 months ago, but the group, operating under the company name London Array Ltd, has only just applied to the government and local planning authorities for permission to begin building. The application is being opposed by the Port of London Authority, which says that the layout presents potential naval hazards.

Britain currently has two commercial offshore wind farms, North Hoyle, off the coast of Rhyl in north Wales and the Scroby Sands offshore wind farm, near Great Yarmouth. Plans to build others have been delayed by obstacles including the discovery of flocks of seabirds in the Irish Sea and uncertainty of funding grid connections.

With onshore projects marred by planning problems and difficulties in acquiring financial backing, the Government is relying on expansion in offshore wind to meet its renewables target as onshore projects.

The consortium hopes to get the go-ahead for the turbines, which will generate as much as 1,000 megawatts – the equivalent to a large gas or coal-burning power station and would be supply 750,000 homes – as early as next year.

Its aim is for construction to be completed by 2011.The consortium says the farm would not be an eyesore, because it is so far out to sea, and it would result in a reduction of 1.9m tonnes carbon dioxide emissions each year.

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