Suffolk: Plans for major new wind farm clear hurdle

SUFFOLK’s economy is set for a multi-million boost from the wind power industry after a huge offshore development cleared a major hurdle.

Thousands of jobs could be created by a huge new wind farm set to be built off the Suffolk coast, which would have up to 140 turbines.

Developers the Galloper Wind Farm were told by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) yesterday that the project met strict planning guidelines, including involvement of local authorities and communities.

Experts will now be appointed to examine the plans in detail before any final go-ahead is given by the Secretary of State – a process that could take more than a year.

The 504 megawatt wind farm will be an extension to the Greater Gabbard wind farm, which is under construction 27 kilometres (16.8miles) off the coast and has already begun to generate power through giant turbines up to 195 metres high.

Both wind farms will have the same number of turbines and between them could provide power for more than one million homes.

The new development will include onshore infrastructure such as a new electricity substation at Sizewell, cable corridors and compounds.

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Lowestoft-based RWE npower Renewables and SSE Renewables, the companies behind the project, submitted an application for the plans in November and were given the go-ahead to “proceed to examination” yesterday.

They will now invite members of the public to have their say on the plans, before the IPC appoints examiners who will spend up to six months looking at the proposals in detail.

The IPC will then have three months to make a final recommendation, and the Government will then have a further three months to make a final decision.

Sir Michael Pitt, chair of the IPC, said: “We have considered very carefully the application submitted by Galloper Wind Farm Ltd and decided that it meets the required tests set out in the legislation to be accepted for IPC examination.

“We have also issued advice to the developer in relation to the subsequent stages of the process.”

Jim Smith, managing director of SSE Renewables, said: “This is an important milestone for the project but is not the end of our engagement with the local community as we will continue to consult and listen to their views.

“We will ensure that local residents are aware of how they can be involved in the decision making process as the IPC takes our application through to the pre-examination and examination stages.”

The Greater Gabbard scheme, which began construction in 2009, should be completed next year with turbines capable of generating enough power for about 530,000 homes.

Public consultation on plans for the Galloper Wind Farm finished in the summer. If all goes to plan work should start in 2014, with completion by the end of 2016.

These plans are running alongside those proposed by Scottish Power Renewables and Swedish company Vattenfall Wind Power for a massive wind farm off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast which, according to the two companies, will eventually generate 7,200MW, enough for more than five million homes.

They are likely to hand a planning application in for the first phase of the scheme, known as East Anglia ONE, towards the end of next year.