£2bn offshore windfarm to go ahead off north Wales

The Gwynt y Mor project involves 160 turbines, around 11 miles off the coast

Construction work will begin next year on one of the largest offshore windfarms in the world, an energy firm has announced.

The £2bn Gwynt y Mor windfarm will have 160 wind turbines around 10 miles off the north Wales coast near Colwyn Bay and Llandudno.

The RWE Innogy-led project is expected to be completed in 2014.

The project was opposed by some people in Llandudno who claimed it would destroy the resort's views out to sea.

The government's decision to grant planning permission was criticised by protesters who also said wind energy was unreliable.

Details of the Gwynt y Mor project were announced on Friday.

Start Quote

In Wales we are ideally located to embrace the economic benefits of green technologies.”

End Quote Cheryl Gillan Welsh Secretary

It is claimed some 1,000 jobs could be created in relation to construction and the supply of components.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "This is excellent news. Gwynt y Mor will be one of the single biggest private investment projects ever seen in Wales, creating up to 1,000 quality jobs and contributing many millions of pounds to the regional economy of north Wales.

"It will also become one of the largest offshore windfarm projects in Europe, able to provide enough clean, green electricity to power the equivalent of around 400,000 homes.

"In Wales we are ideally located to embrace the economic benefits of green technologies.

"Surrounded by wind, wave and tidal resources, we are in a prime position to be able to benefit from investment in the green economy whilst making a significant contribution to the [UK] government's carbon reduction targets through safe, clean renewable means."

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he is delighted the project is going ahead.

"This £2bn investment in north Wales, which was previously opposed by David Cameron, is only happening thanks to the pioneering work undertaken by Ed Miliband when he was Labour's Energy Secretary.

"Gwynt y Mor will be Wales' largest wind farm, capable of powering around 400,000 homes, and preventing the release of 1.7m tonnes of carbon dioxide every year."

The windfarm has already been given permission by the UK Government.

The announcement confirmed that contracts worth £2.2m have already been awarded to companies in Wales.

Further contracts and jobs are due to be awarded as the project develops with the expectation that jobs will also be created to support the operation and maintenance of the windfarm.

'Energy potential'

But opponent John Lawson-Reay, chairman of Save our Scenery, is doubtful about how many jobs will be created in Wales.

Mr Lawson-Reay said Germany and the Netherlands would benefit the most.

He said: "Three German companies are doing it. Yes, there will be a few jobs. They will get Dutch people in to operate the rigs.

"There will be a few jobs in Mostyn where they're handling the equipment but as far as this part of the world is concerned, you can forget it.

"There's no prospect of us in this particular area getting anything out of this."

Work will start towards the end of next year and the the windfarm is planned to generate electricity from 2013, although it will not be completed until 2014.

The project will involve three partners: RWE Innogy, Stadtwerke München and Siemens.

UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said: "This is the first of what I hope will be many examples of how we can make the most of our island's huge renewable energy potential.

"I want to make sure we grab all the opportunities the rapidly expanding renewables industry has to offer, and that wind power can come of age under this government."

RWE has invested in other windfarms off the north Wales coast such as North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats.

Rhyl Flats, which was officially opened at the end of last year, is currently Wales' largest wind farm.

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