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EDITIONS
Friday, 22 November, 2002, 16:56 GMT
Fresh wind farm drive
Wind farm
The global wind farm market is buoyant
The potential of the UK's offshore wind farm industry remains largely untapped, according to a government document.

Energy Minister Brian Wilson said the Future Offshore document was a "major step forward" in developing the market.

The Solway Firth in Scotland to North Wales and the Thames Estuary are the main focus of the drive.

Greenpeace said the move showed the government had taken its "blinkers off" and the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) thought it heralded "the birth of a new industry".


This consultation document proves that we are seeing the birth of a new industry

Nick Goodall
British Wind Energy Association

Environmental assessments will be carried out on new wind farm proposal as the industry grows.

Mr Wilson said: "The potential contribution towards our energy needs is enormous and this, in turn, will underpin a substantial manufacturing industry.

"The global market for offshore renewables is predicted to be worth 8bn by 2007, mainly in Europe."

'Tapping global market'

The minister added: "In theory, the three strategic areas could source enough electricity to power the whole of Britain, albeit intermittently."

He said there was no doubt about the scale of opportunity if natural resources were properly harnessed.

Mr Wilson said: "By bringing forward strategic environmental assessments we're helping developers to get on with the job of harnessing this natural resource, while ensuring minimal damage is done to marine ecosystems and wildlife."

He said new exploration licences would give developers the chance to seek new areas beyond the current legal 12-mile shoreline limit.

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson: "Scale of opportunity"

Matthew Spencer, of Greenpeace, said: "The pro-nuclear argument has been knocked for six by this report which shows that offshore wind alone can deliver 40 times more power than all of the UK's nuclear reactors.

"The government must now follow through with the minimum of a 30% target for renewable energy nationally to ensure that big wind farms at sea get built."

'Plenty of wind'

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has received plans for a 150 turbine wind farm in the Thames Estuary.

Lord Whitty, Minister for Sustainable Energy, said the Department for environment, food and rural affairs and the DTI were working together to ensure marine or fisheries impact linked to building offshore was properly managed.

"Any fisherman's concerns must be taken into account at the planning stage and we must also factor in marine conservation," he said.

Nick Goodall, BWEA chief executive, said: "This consultation document proves that we are seeing the birth of a new industry.

"The UK now stands to harness an abundant resource as a key part of its move to a low carbon future.

"There's plenty of wind, we encourage companies in other energy sectors to join us, bring their skills and secure the jobs of their employees by tapping this vast new global market."

See also:

18 Nov 02 | Scotland
01 Oct 02 | England
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