Offshore wind farms have moved a step closer after five developers gained permission to monitor wind speeds around the British coast. The Crown Estate, which owns most of the seabed in UK waters, has issued agreements for anemometry equipment to be installed at five sites: Robin Rigg in the Solway Firth, North Hoyle off north Wales, Scarweather Sands off south Wales, Kentish Flats in the Thames Estuary and off Ingoldmells Point in Lincolnshire. The Crown Estate stresses the agreements do not confer rights for future wind farm development. Companies will have to go through a formal application and assessment process on which the government will make the final planning decision. Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is still in the throes of a consultation with the industry on the best support mechanism to encourage offshore wind. In its consultation paper, the DTI sought views on an immediate start to wind monitoring; the decision to allow anemometry is a result of the industry's strong response. The equipment is expected to be in place within four months.