Huge wind farm gets go-ahead

A WIND farm that could cost nearly £1,000million and supply electricity for more than 400,000 homes can be built off the Suffolk coast, the Government has announced.

A WIND farm that could cost nearly £1,000million and supply electricity for more than 400,000 homes can be built off the Suffolk coast, the Government has announced.

Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd, a joint venture between Airtricity and Fluor, has been given permission by the Department of Trade and Industry to build the farm.

The cost of the wind farm was put at between £750m and £950m and it will be built 25km off the coast in the Outer Thames estuary. Connection to the electricity grid will be done via a substation at Sizewell.

The wind farm will produce 500mw of electricity, enough to power more than 415,000 homes and equivalent to the domestic demand of Suffolk, from 140 wind turbines.

This equals a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of almost 1.5million tonnes per year, which is the equivalent of removing 350,000 cars from the road every year.

A spokeswoman for the project reassured coastal communities in Suffolk that they should not experience any extra road congestion during the construction period. Much of the construction equipment will travel by sea.

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She said: ''There has already been lots of consultation between parish and town councils which resulted in planning permission being granted for onshore works and that will continue.

''The electricity generated will enter the national grid and will be used nationally and purchased by a retail electricity supplier, which is the norm.''

The site was chosen because of high wind speeds, low water depth, suitable ground conditions and minimal environmental sensitivities.

There is ''relatively little fishing activity'' close to the site, no objections from the MoD or Civil Aviation Authority and no significant bird concentrations.

The turbines will be in up to 30m of water and each blade tip at its highest will be 170m above mean sea level.

The company said it will be almost impossible to see the turbines in most weather conditions because they will be so far from the coast.

The company hopes that offshore construction will start as soon as possible with the aim of producing electricity in two years.

Although the final approval decision was made by the Department of Trade and Industry, Suffolk Coastal District Council was invited to make comment about the plans.

The council said it was concerned about an influx of tourists to the coast, but the windfarm will rarely be visible, depending on weather conditions. They also raised the issue of noise and the fact that offshore construction may be heard at quiet locations along the coastline at night was taken into account, however the turbines will be too far away to be audible.

n. Do you think the wind farm is a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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