Windfarm could benefit Suffolk and Norfolk

A planning decision which paves the way for a major extension of a wind farm off the Suffolk coast has been welcomed by an MP and an enterprise zone boss yesterday as a job boost to Norfolk as well.

Thousands of jobs could be created by a huge new wind farm set to be built off the Suffolk coast, which would have up to 140 turbines.

Developers of the Galloper Wind Farm, Lowestoft-based RWE npower Renewables and SSE Renewables, have been told by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) that the project met strict planning guidelines, including involvement of local authorities and communities.

If finally approved by the government, the 504 megawatt wind farm will be an extension to the Greater Gabbard wind farm, which is under construction 16.8miles off the Suffolk coast south of Lowestoft and has already begun to generate power through giant turbines up to 195 metres high.

Both wind farms will have the same number of turbines and between them could potentially provide power for more than one million homes.

As well as Suffolk, it is hoped that Norfolk will benefit from the extension, with Great Yarmouth in a prime position to scoop jobs due to its growing reputation as a renewable energy and off shore industry hub.

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Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: 'It is an important skills and job opportunity for Yarmouth. It is now important that we train up people in Yarmouth to the skills set needed for the renewable sector.'

Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'This planning decision is very good news and brings significant investment in our area one step closer.

'Offshore wind offers significant opportunities to Suffolk and Norfolk and we are working to capitalise on these opportunities through our Enterprise Zone and the designation of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft as a national Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering.'

The new development will include onshore infrastructure such as a new electricity substation at Sizewell, cable corridors and compounds.

RWE npower Renewables and SSE Renewables will now invite members of the public to have their say on the plans, before the IPC appoints examiners who will spend up to six months looking at the proposals in detail.

The IPC will then have three months to make a final recommendation, and the Government will then have a further three months to make a final decision.

Welcoming the IPC planning decision on Monday, Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: 'This is good news at the start of a process which I hope will result in significant benefits to the whole region.

'Offshore wind power is a central part of our huge potential for growth in the energy sector and I look forward to working with colleagues at SSE and RWE to do all I can to help.'

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey said: 'It is good news that the project to bring more sustainable energy resilience to our Green Coast is moving forward. This will provide a good basis for jobs off our shoreline.

'However, now is also the time for any constituents who are concerned about the application, particularly the bringing onshore of cables, to have their say.'

The Greater Gabbard scheme, which began construction in 2009, should be completed next year with turbines capable of generating enough power for about 530,000 homes.

Public consultation on plans for the Galloper Wind Farm finished in the summer. If all goes to plan work should start in 2014, with completion by the end of 2016.

These plans are running alongside those proposed by Scottish Power Renewables and Swedish company Vattenfall Wind Power for a massive wind farm off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast which, according to the two companies, will eventually generate 7,200MW, enough for more than five million homes.

They are likely to hand a planning application in for the first phase of the scheme, known as East Anglia ONE, towards the end of next year.

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