Offshore Wind Farms to Power Homes -and Jobs

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Byline: Kirsty Buchanan Political Editor k.buchanan@freeuk.com

A GIANT wind farm of up to 300 turbines will be built off the coast of North Wales after ministers signalled a major expansion of renewable energy schemes in the UK yesterday. The farm will dwarf two current projects at North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats, but will be built further out to sea to minimise the impact on residents.

The scheme is one of three approved by the Department of Trade and Industry yesterday and was welcomed by the National Assembly as green campaigners sounded a note of caution.

The shallow waters off North Wales, stretching up the coast of North West England to Cumbria, are one of three sites approved for development by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt following an environmental assessment.

Together the farms will create a new industry with up to 20,000 manufacturing, construction and engineering jobs and will produce enough electricity to power 3.5 million homes.

The turbines will be of different heights -some in England will be the biggest in the world -but will be built between 25km to 60km out to sea, compared to the current North Wales developments which are five kilometres off the coast.

Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones said the 140 engineers and construction workers already employed on the North Hoyle development would be well placed to take advantage of the additional jobs.

And Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane said he would lobby for North Wales workers to benefit from the boom.

``If this development is going to be off North Wales and the North West of England, I am going to ask that emphasis is put on creating these jobs within the poorest communities in these areas.''

Two other sites were also approved yesterday off the coast of East Anglia and the Thames Estuary. Developers will be announced in the autumn with work due to start within the next few years.

National Wind Power, the developer behind the North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats schemes, said it would be considering putting in a bid.

Julian Rosser, head of campaigns and development at Friends of the Earth Cymru, said while all electricity generation had an impact on the environment, renewable energy was the least harmful. …