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Guardian Unlimited : Green light for world’s biggest windfarm

Gwyn Topham
Monday December 18, 2006

The government has given the go-ahead for the world’s largest offshore windfarm to be built off the coast of south-east England.

The London Array windfarm, to be built by a consortium including Shell, will consist of 341 turbines located 12 miles offshore.

While the government has approved the offshore construction of the windfarm, in an area 145 square miles stretching between Margate, Kent, and Clacton, Essex, the scheme currently depends on an onshore power substation being built in Swale, Kent.

The Department of Trade and Industry today also approved a second major scheme in the Thames Estuary, to be built in Thanet. Together the windfarms could deliver 1.3 GW of green electricity – enough to meet the needs of a third of homes in Greater London.
The secretary of state for trade and industry, Alistair Darling, said the decision was “a significant step forward” in providing a greener and clean source of power, claiming that Britain was now second only to Denmark in the offshore wind sector.

He said: “Projects such as the London Array, which will be the biggest in the world when completed, and Thanet underline the real progress that is being made.”

The government has set a target, in its energy review, of a 500% increase in UK renewable energy resources by 2020.

The environment secretary, David Miliband, added: “We expect this announcement will be the first of a number of large-scale offshore wind farms in the UK and will provide real impetus for the continued developments in the offshore renewable energy sector that will benefit generations to come.”

James Smith, chair of Shell UK, welcomed the decision on behalf of the developer’s consortium: “The London Array offshore wind farm will make a crucial contribution to the UK’s renewable energy targets.”

Local concerns over increased traffic and noise meant that Swale council blocked the consortium’s planning application for the onshore substation in July this year.

An appeal was lodged, but development as planned is still dependent on the outcome of a hearing in March next year. However, the DTI said that today’s conditional consent was a major step forward and is confident that the windfarm will be built by 2011.

The RSPB, which is fighting the construction of Britain’s onshore windfarm proposed for the Scottish island of Lewis, has also now given its backing to the London Array project, after plans were modified to protect the endangered bird, the red-throated diver.

Friends of the Earth, which has campaigned for London Array throughout, welcomed the decision, but warned that the government “must go further” in cutting carbon emissions.

The £500m Thanet wind farm will be seven miles from north Foreland on the Kent coast. With 100 turbines, it is expected to be completed as soon as 2008, and should provide electricity for around 240,000 homes.

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/energy/story/0,,1974690,00.html

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1 Comment on “Guardian Unlimited : Green light for world’s biggest windfarm”

  1. #1 Bob
    on Dec 18th, 2006 at 13:05

    This is a good move but we will still need to develop our nuclear programme to generate the rest of the energy that is required.

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