Lowestoft wind farm project gathering pace
Hayley MaceA �1.2m project to turn Lowestoft harbour into the operational base for the world's largest offshore wind farm is gathering pace with the completion of the main headquarters building.Hayley Mace
A �1.2m project to turn Lowestoft harbour into the operational base for the world's largest offshore wind farm is gathering pace with the completion of the main headquarters building.
Work on the building, based at the old dockside fish market at Waveney Dock, started in the spring when Associated British Ports (ABP) announced that Lowestoft had been chosen as the operations and maintenance base for the 140-turbine Greater Gabbard wind farm, which is currently being built about 15 miles off the Suffolk coast.
Over the coming months, investment is set to continue and the port will eventually be home to a fleet of helicopters and high speed offshore catamarans, which will be able to travel from Waveney Dock to the wind farm in about one hour.
With 140 turbines and two onshore substations near Sizewell, it is hoped that the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power more than 500,000 homes.
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A spokesman for developer Airtricity, part of Scottish and Southern Energy, said that the operations and maintenance base will eventually create about 60 full-time jobs.
He said: 'We have already made lots of progress, and seven employees have now been recruited locally. The first contractors have now moved in to the headquarters building and the control room has been completely fitted out.
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'Construction has just started on a helipad and hangar and that project is due to be completed early next year. Pontoons for the operations boats have been completed and the first boats are due to arrive soon.'
He added: 'Pilots are already being trained. One has been recruited locally and another is moving into the area and they will both be permanently based on the project.
'Lowestoft is going to be our home for the onshore side of the wind farm during its 25 year life, so we are looking forward to being fully set up.'
When completed, the helipad, on the dockside off Battery Green Road, will be used as a back-up facility to transport engineers to the wind farm at short notice or when rough seas mean that ships cannot be used.
The first foundation platforms for the �650m wind farm were installed earlier in the autumn and the first turbine is due to be put up in the spring.
It is hoped that it will start producing electricity next year and be completed by 2012.