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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Go ahead for giant windfarm
The government wants a big push towards wind energy
A massive windfarm with up to 300 turbines could be built off the coast of north Wales, as part of a major UK-wide expansion of wind energy.

Two windfarms, each with 30 turbines, are already planned for the region, at North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats.

But the third potential site could dwarf these two projects, and produce the same amount of electricity as Anglesey's Wylfa nuclear power station.

On Monday, Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced that developers could apply for licences to build farms in the sea between north Wales and Cumbria.

The announcement is part of the second phase of the UK Government's plans to increase reliance on renewable energy.

The Department for Trade and Industry has committed the UK to generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010, and Monday's news is a major step towards achieving this figure.

Any new site off north Wales would probably be built further out to sea, to minimise opposition.

WELSH MARINE WINDFARMS
Wind turbine
1. North Hoyle
Situated off coast of Rhyl/Prestatyn
30 turbines, 60 megawatts
Turbines ready for shipping from Mostyn Docks
2. Rhyl Flats
30 turbines, 150 metres high
Electricity for 50,000 Denbighshire homes
Awaiting construction
3. Scarweather Sands
Planning application pulled in by assembly
120m, 30-turbine project near Porthcawl
Strong local opposition, 8,000-signature petition

The other two sites earmarked for major new windfarms are in the Wash and Thames estuary off the east coast of England.

If successfully developed, the three farms would have the combined capacity to meet the energy needs of nine million people - around 5% of the national grid - and could create 20,000 jobs.

They will join 18 planned offshore developments around the UK which were announced under the first phase of the scheme.

The two sites in north Wales have already been given approval, although a third proposed site off Porthcawl, south Wales, is still subject to planning approval.

National Windpower is currently building two 30-turbine windfarms 7.5km off Denbighshire, on Rhyl Flats and North Hoyle.

The collections of 150m-tall towers will provide up to 60 megawatts of electricity - enough for about 100,000 homes in total.

And United Utilities has lodged an application for a third development at Scarweather Sands, 10km south of Port Talbot, which would power 45,000 homes.

But that 60m plan is still being pored over at the Welsh assembly following concerns from some citizens it could blight their views.

Pembrokeshire wind power consultant Geoff Sinclair said off-shore turbines could be a booming market.

"The output of the 364 wind turbines on land in Wales is less than that from the first two off-shore windfarms will be," he told BBC News Online.

"These turbines are getting bigger and more powerful - off-shore is one of the right ways to do it."




SEE ALSO:
Windfarm faces assembly inquiry
26 Mar 03  |  Wales
Biggest windfarm given go-ahead
23 May 02  |  Wales
Green light for windfarm
26 Dec 02  |  Wales


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