Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Giant wind farm gets the go-ahead

Artist's impression of proposed windfarm
A photomontage of how the scheme would look from land

One of the largest offshore wind farms in the world has been approved to be built off the coast of north Wales.

The 250 turbines of Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm will be built eight miles off the coast, 10 miles away from Llandudno, Conwy.

Gwynt y Môr, combined with three other nearby wind farms, will provide enough green electricity to power the equivalent of 680,000 homes.

It has been approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The wind farm will start to produce power from 2012, subject to consent for onshore electricity works.


Graphics of what the wind farm could look like

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said the 750MW development by Npower Renewables Ltd will create a "powerhouse for renewable energy" off the north Wales coast.

"The UK must clean up its energy supply to fight the damaging effects of climate change and more wind power will help us do this," he said.

"The UK is leading the world in offshore wind, and the developments off the coast of north Wales will help keep us front runners."

In granting approval, DECC took into account both the distance of the development from the shore and work Npower Renewables Ltd had done to minimise the visual impact.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it had requested for the DECC to have a public inquiry into the Gwynt y Môr proposal on grounds of its visual impact and taking into account Llandudno's historic built environment.


David Shukman visits a windfarm under construction at Romney Marsh

"Although our view point was made clear, that the above issues should be tested via a public inquiry before ministers took their decision, those ministers are entirely within their rights to override our request and to arrive at a decision on the information before them," an assembly government spokesman said.

"Now that the decision is made, Welsh companies should seek to capitalise on the significant economic opportunities that will arise in the supply chain of this huge project."

A spokesperson for the British Wind Energy Association said the development was "fantastic news", adding: "Gwynt y Môr is a landmark project both for Wales and the United Kingdom as a whole.

Scenery is the primary number one reason for people coming here [Llandudno]. They want to get away from industrial areas.
John Lawson-Reay, of Save our Scenery

"It brings the total offshore projects with planning approval to 4.5 GW, solidifying UK's position as leader in offshore wind energy.

"It will also set us well on our way towards reaching our 2020 renewable energy targets."

Morgan Parry, head of WWF Cymru, said the scheme's approval was "fantastic news for Wales".

"We need more projects such as Gwynt y Môr to help reduce our carbon emissions," he said.

"It is only through landmark projects such as this that we can meet the tough targets set and start to de-carbonise our economy in Wales.

"The evidence of the effects of climate change is becoming increasing apparent, scientists have predicted that sea levels will rise by about a metre by the end of the century - this will change the face of Wales especially our coastal areas."

But John Lawson-Reay, chairman of Save our Scenery, who campaigned against the wind farm, said he was "shattered" by the scheme's go-ahead.

"Tourism is the only major industry in Wales basically," he said.

"Llandudno is the queen of Welsh resorts, as has been often said, and we think and we believe and the views we get from visitors we speak to is that the scenery is the primary number one reason for people coming here.

"They want to get away from industrial areas."

Gwynt y Môr is the latest wind farm to be approved off the north Wales coast.

North Hoyle, which has 30 turbines and Burbo, which has 25 turbines, are already up and running, while Rhyl Flats, with its 25 turbines, is into the latter half of its construction phase.

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