Huge offshore wind farm bid revealed

PLANS for a massive wind farm with more than 100 turbines off the Suffolk coast will be submitted by the end of the month, the EADT can reveal.A site located 16 miles off Orford has been earmarked for up to 140 turbines - and building could start in less than three years if permission is granted.

By Richard Smith

PLANS for a massive wind farm with more than 100 turbines off the Suffolk coast will be submitted by the end of the month, the EADT can reveal.

A site located 16 miles off Orford has been earmarked for up to 140 turbines - and building could start in less than three years if permission is granted.

The turbines, which will be 146m high, could potentially produce enough electricity for about 300,000 homes - which is nearly 80 times more than a proposed wind farm at Parham, near Framlingham.


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Plans for six 100m high turbines at a disused airfield in the Suffolk village received planning permission last week and electricity could be produced for 4,000 homes by the spring of 2007.

The proposed offshore wind farm would generate about 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity - Sizewell B generates 1,200MW - and town and parish councils on the Suffolk coast will be consulted about the proposals. The application is due to be determined by the Department of Trade and Industry.

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Dublin-based Airtricity is behind the plans for the wind farm on sandbanks known as the Inner Gabbard and the Galloper, in an area used for the dumping of material dredged from shipping channels.

Majella Walsh, a spokeswoman for Airtricity, said yesterday: “We got the lease awarded by the Crown Estates and then the next process was to do an environmental impact study and submit an application.

“We are at the stage where we are almost ready to submit our planning application and that will be ready in the next two or three weeks.

“The environmental impact assessment has been done and that is to be submitted with the planning application. That work includes things like bird monitoring, visual impact, navigation, fisheries etc.”

She said the company expected it would take several months for their planning application to be determined and they hoped to have a result by the middle of next year.

The sandbanks are used as feeding grounds by some species of birds and therefore the environment impact assessment had to consider the possible impact on seabirds, and migratory birds in the spring and autumn.

Airtricity has erected 3.6MW turbines on the first phase of the world's biggest marine wind farm, off the Arklow coast of Ireland. It is set to generate 520MW of electricity.

If the same design was used off the Suffolk coast, it would involve the erection of 139 turbines.

A seabed cable would be laid to bring the electricity into Suffolk and to connect with the national grid.

It is highly unlikely that the wind farm could be viewed from the coast. For a guide, Rough's Tower, a Second World War military base which can be seen from Felixstowe, is seven miles from the resort.

Proposals for the wind farm were first announced in 2003 when 15 locations around the UK coast were identified as sites for huge offshore energy farms with the aim of providing enough electricity for one in every six homes.

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