United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Minister says good for Scroby Sands

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The UK's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm has been given the go-ahead by government. Energy minister Brian Wilson granted consent to Powergen Renewables for a 76 MW wind farm to be built on a sandbank some 2.5 kilometres off the Norfolk coast, eastern England. Up to 38, 2 MW wind turbines will be installed in a water depth of eight metres on Middle Scroby Sands within sight of the popular tourist resort of Great Yarmouth.

Construction of the onshore works will begin in winter 2002, with the turbines being installed during summer 2003. Scroby Sands is one of the 18 potential offshore sites that secured seabed leases from Crown Estate last year.

Powergen Renewables has been developing the project since 1995, and submitted its applications for consent over a year ago. As well as agreement from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the Electricity Act, the company also gained consents under the Food & Environment Protection Act and the Coast Protection Act. Nigel Pearce from the DTI says that future applications for offshore wind farms should not be as slow to determine. Under the DTI's "one-stop-shop" approach to streamline the consents process, the target for offshore applications is four to six months, he says.

Powergen Renewables, in collaboration with Vestas, was granted EU funding for the project from the Thermie energy program. According to Chris Morris from Powergen Renewables, most of the money is in a pot waiting to be spent. But he cannot confirm that Vestas would supply the turbines: "Because of EU procurement process rules, we have to tender for this project," he says.

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