A decision to build an offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary off Herne Bay will bring new jobs and help the environment, councillors say.
The 30 turbines will be visible as 'blips on the horizon'
Plans to site 30 turbines on the 'Kentish Flats', an area of shallow water 8.5km north of Herne Bay, were approved by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Wednesday.
Grep UK Marine Ltd, the firm responsible for building the 140m-high machines, said they would only be visible as "blips on the horizon".
The decision has been welcomed by Canterbury City Council, which was consulted by the DTI.
'Best possible news'
Alex Perkins, Liberal Democrat leader of Canterbury City Council, said: "I am absolutely overjoyed. This is the best possible news we could have had.
"The head-in-the-sand attitude that so many people have had in this country towards alternative forms of energy production has got to come to an end.
"This first wind farm, 8.5 km off the coast of Herne Bay, will be totally unobtrusive but will generate electricity for local people and provide jobs for local people."
Mr Perkins said it was not yet known how many jobs would be created.
Over 300 people went to a meeting in Herne Bay in 2001
He said the turbine footings would also act like an artificial reef where fish would breed, helping to replenish stocks.
Peter Clibbon, of Grep UK Marine Ltd, said the turbines would generate the equivalent of half the annual energy used by Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.
Around 87% of local residents surveyed by the firm at public meetings in Herne Bay and Whitstable had backed the project, he said.
He said the site for the turbines was ideal.
"On a good day they they would be visible as blips on the horizon," he said.
"People will be able to distinguish the turbines and see if they are moving.
"They are well outside the shipping lanes and where people sail so in terms of inconvenience, it is only that we can see them."
Construction will start in 2004, with the wind farm expected to be in operation by early 2005.