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Wind farm start date nears

PUBLISHED: 15:36 16 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:24 05 July 2010

WORK on the world's largest off-shore wind farm is expected to start in the next four weeks, it emerged yesterday.

Construction of the 140 turbines at Greater Gabbard, off the Suffolk coast, was initially planned to begin next year, with completion due in 2010, but the companies behind the £950m project are hopeful work will start next month.

WORK on the world's largest off-shore wind farm is expected to start in the next four weeks, it emerged yesterday.

Construction of the 140 turbines at Greater Gabbard, off the Suffolk coast, was initially planned to begin next year, with completion due in 2010, but the companies behind the £950m project are hopeful work will start next month.

The scheme will provide enough power to supply electricity to more than 415,000 homes and will cut carbon emissions by 1.5m tonnes a year - the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road.

The project is a joint venture between Airtricity and US firm Fluor with sub-contracts, which could benefit local companies, expected to be announced soon.

Plans for the wind farm, which was approved in February last year, have been widely welcomed.

John Gummer, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I think this is an extraordinarily exciting development.

“It is an ideal place for a wind farm. We should, wherever we can, go for off-shore wind farms. I think it is environmentally much better this way and I am looking forward to it producing its first electricity.”

The windfarm will produce 500mw of electricity and its connection to the National Grid will be achieved via a substation at Sizewell.

The turbines will rise to about 170m above sea level and will be barely visible from the shore.

It will be located approximately 25km off the coast, in the outer Thames Estuary, close to two shallow sandbanks - the Inner Gabbard and the Galloper.

John Hutton, Secretary of State for business and regulation, said: “Airtricity's investment in Greater Gabbard is very welcome and a prime example of the increasing number of renewable projects that are now taking place across the UK.

“The massive potential of the UK shoreline coupled with the right market conditions mean the UK is one of the most attractive places in the world to invest in off shore technology.

“Through the Energy Bill we are providing more financial support to offshore projects, and in the summer we will be setting out our plans to increase renewables further. Tackling climate change and securing future energy supplies is of the utmost importance and a vast expansion of both onshore and offshore wind will be central to this.”

Airtricity is the renewable energy development division of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).

Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said: “The UK wants to respond to climate change and become more self-sufficient in energy, so it makes sense to exploit the excellent resource that UK offshore wind represents.”

Mr Marchant said that on completion Greater Gabbard will be the largest off-shore wind farm in the world.

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