Multi-million pound offshore wind farm could be on the horizon

A multi-billion pound wind farm with as many as 333 turbines off the north Norfolk coast could be on the horizon.

The company behind the project RWE npower has promised job creation, community benefits and enough clean energy for the needs of around 850,000 households and has started a public consultation.

Opponents have described the project as 'the latest nail in the coffin' of north Norfolk's fishing industry.

The proposed Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm would be located approximately 28 miles north of Wells and 20 miles east of the Lincolnshire coast.

RWE npower said the company's onshore base during the project has not yet been proposed and could be anywhere along the north Norfolk or east Lincolnshire coast.

A public exhibition of plans will be on display at The Maltings, Staithe Street, Wells on June 20 from 2pm to 8pm.

Jacob Hain, Triton Knoll project manager, said: 'During construction, the Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm will have a positive effect on employment and economic activity in the local area, where local businesses will be best-placed to secure contracts.

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'We have already placed contracts with boat operators in the Greater Wash that exceed �1 million.'

The exact number of turbines that would be built, if permission is granted, is not yet known but 333 is the maximum number proposed.

The project would be estimated to have a five-year construction period and the wind farm is expected to have an operational life of 25 years.

Opponents are already aggrieved at developments nearby with the Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm, which will feature 88 turbines about 10 miles off the north Norfolk coast, currently under construction, and the proposed Docking Shoal Wind Farm, eight miles north of Wells, for between 83 and 177 turbines.

Ivan Large, chairman of the North Norfolk Fishing Society and the Wells and District Inshore Fishermen's Association said: 'This would be another nail in the coffin for our fishing industry and I have already sent an objection to the relevant authorities.

'We already have enough problems with the other offshore wind farm developments going on in this area and if this goes ahead we will be losing another area where we fish. At certain times of the year we will have four or five boats working at this Triton Knoll site.

'If these developments keep going on fishermen up here will struggle to be able to make a living.'

Allen Frary, chairman of Wells Town Council, who was a fisherman for 25 years, said: 'I still have family involved in the fishing industry up here and with the amount of wind farm developments going on I really fear for the future for them.

'There is not a shadow of a doubt that this development would have a devastating effect on the fishing industry. There would be a big exclusion zone for fishermen while the wind farm is being constructed. People may say the site is a fair way from our coast but there is still a lot of fishing that goes on there.'

He added: 'They say there is a consultation period going on but I believe the deal is already done and dusted.'

Mr Hain said: 'We have been speaking with the fishermen who use the site since 2008 and believe we have built up good relationships with them. We are continuing to work closely with the individuals who fish in the area to explore how we can co-exist successfully in the future.'

He added: 'We want as many people as possible to take this opportunity to give us their views and understand more about this exciting development.

'This is the stage where feedback can most help us improve the proposals.'

At the June 20 public exhibition, people will be able to meet the Triton Knoll project team and view details about the construction process and the environmental assessments that have been carried out over the last three years.

There will also be images on show to provide an indication of what the wind farm may look like and information about the local economic benefits and employment opportunities that could arise from the project.

The public consultation period continues until 5pm on July 12.

After this, a planning application will be submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the body which determines planning projects of national significance.

People can give feedback at the exhibition in Wells or via the website, via e mail, or by writing to Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm, RWE npower Renewables Limited, Auckland House, Lydiard Fields, Great Western Way, Swindon, SN5 8ZT.

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