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Green light for wind farms off the Norfolk Coast at Race Bank and Dudgeon, but Docking Shoal plan blocked to safeguard seabirds at Scolt Head and Blakeney Point

PUBLISHED: 19:12 06 July 2012 | UPDATED: 19:17 06 July 2012

REFUSED: The site of the proposed wind farm at Docking Shoal, near Wells.

REFUSED: The site of the proposed wind farm at Docking Shoal, near Wells.

Archant © 2009

Two offshore wind farms off the north Norfolk coast have today been given the go-ahead by the Government. But a third project was turned down because of concerns over the impact it could have on seabirds protected by environmental legislation.

"Today’s decision strikes a balance between the protection of the internationally important wildlife of the north Norfolk coast and the delivery of over 1GW of clean energy vital in the fight against climate change."

Amy Crossley, of the RSPB

The two approved wind farms at Race Bank and Dudgeon in the Greater Wash off the north Norfolk coast will have a combined capacity of over 1 gigawatt, potentially generating enough electricity to power 730,000 homes.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said the projects represented around £3bn of investment.

Docking Shoal wind farm, also off the north Norfolk coast, was not given the go-ahead because of the potential impact on Sandwich terns, whose colonies at Blakeney Point and Scolt Head Island fall within a “Special Protected Area”, which is protected under EU wildlife laws.

The total amount of offshore wind power now operational, under construction or consented has reached 6.6GW.

Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: “The UK is racing ahead of the global field and these two new offshore wind farms underline this momentum. These two projects will not only bring us considerable amounts of clean energy, but significant investment and jobs too.

“We have also shown that we are mindful of other consequences, such as the impact on bird populations, in deciding it would not be appropriate to consent all three applications.”

Mark Hanafin, managing director of Centrica Energy which plans to build Race Bank wind farm, said: “Achieving Government consent for Race Bank is an important milestone. We will now undertake a thorough appraisal of project costs with a view to making a final investment decision on Race Bank early in 2013.”

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of industry body RenewableUK, said: “This decision is a tremendous boost for the offshore wind energy sector, creating hundreds of jobs, stimulating billions of pounds worth of investment and setting the UK firmly on the path of reaching its 2020 renewable energy targets.”

Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner Mike Birkin said: “This is great news - pushing ahead with renewable energy like offshore wind will boost local jobs and help end our reliance on ever-more costly fossil fuels, which are sending our fuel bills soaring.”

He said the sooner the UK invested in clean energy, the sooner costs would fall.

Amy Crossley, of the RSPB, said: “Today’s decision strikes a balance between the protection of the internationally important wildlife of the north Norfolk coast and the delivery of over 1GW of clean energy vital in the fight against climate change.”

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