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All systems go for wind farm

PUBLISHED: 13:51 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:13 05 July 2010

THE WORLD'S largest offshore wind farm near the Suffolk coast will start producing electricity next year before all of the 140 wind turbines have been installed.

THE WORLD'S largest offshore wind farm near the Suffolk coast will start producing electricity next year before all of the 140 wind turbines have been installed.

Work on the Greater Gabbard wind farm 26km out to sea will start in 2009 with a planned completion at the end of 2010.

The development on land at Sizewell where a substation is required will start in July - the location was moved to Sizewell Wents after public opposition to a proposed site near Home Farm south of the Sizewell Gap Road. 100 workers will be needed.

The turbines, 1km apart, will be in a location roughly parallel with Felixstowe, Harwich and Clacton. The area was chosen for high wind speeds, no known environmental problems, a low water depth, and a good connection to the National Grid via Sizewell.

A cable will go undersea to the new substation and another cable will connect this with the Sizewell A power station.

This is a huge project but visitors to a drop-in information meeting at Leiston community centre were told that the wind farm and the substation could be finished within the next 30 months.

Fishermen have expressed concern about the impact of wind farms on fishing grounds but Mike Scott, a project manager for the wind farm development, said: “There are two sandbanks that run down over there, the Galloper and Gabbard, and fishermen do not fish around there which is one of the beauties of the location.

“We are probably going to have one transportation point on mainland UK - we are looking at Felixstowe, Yarmouth, Lowestoft or Harwich - with barges taking things out to the site and probably one point in Europe.

“We have had a weather mast on the site for two-and-a-half to three years to measure the wind speed and that speed is pretty constant.”

Mr Scott said it was unlikely that the public would be able to see the wind farm from the Suffolk coast and he added most wind farms were closer to the shore.

“This will be the world's largest off shore wind farm and it has the same capacity as Sizewell A power station,” he said.

Brian Cable, project manager for the National Grid substation, said: “The advantage of the new location is that it is near the power station infrastructure, it is on the same side of the road and it appeases the locals.

“The National Grid cable will go to Sizewell A and from there it is connected to the National Grid and the people of Suffolk will use that electricity as well as people from all over the country.

“We will be taking mitigating measures during construction to minimise disruption to the community.”

These measures include the use of horizontal directional drill techniques to go under roads to avoid closing roads; work in the Suffolk Coastal car park will run from September to February to avoid the holiday season; the area will be reinstated to its original condition after the completion of works, and traffic into Sizewell will be kept to a minimum.

Construction traffic will turn off the A12 at Yoxford and use the B1122 through Theberton and by pass Leiston to access Sizewell. New landscaping will be installed around the substation.

A community relations team will answer questions about the development on 0800 021 7879.

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