Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 14:19 UK

Estuary wind farm work to begin

Wind farm
Onshore work is due to start in this summer

Plans to build what could be the world's largest offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary are to go ahead.

Energy firm E.ON, one of the project's main backers, said the £2.2bn first phase of the London Array would start this year and be completed by 2012.

The plans include 341 turbines being built on a 90 sq-mile site 12 miles from the Kent and Essex coasts.

The announcement follows changes to the financial support for wind farms announced in the latest Budget.

There had previously been doubt over the future of the 1,000 MW project, which could power 750,000 homes.

'Cutting edge'

Abu Dhabi-based Masdar bought 40% of the German firm E.ON's share last year, giving it a 20% stake in the whole enterprise. Dong Energy, a Danish company, is also a major stakeholder.

A spokesperson for the project said: "The partners are satisfied that the project is now financially viable and are now keen to push ahead with construction and to produce the first renewable power in 2012."

Onshore work is due to start in the summer, with offshore work due to start in early 2011.

The first phase will consist of 175 turbines and generate up to 630MW of energy.

Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the construction phase of the project.

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