Wind farms off East coast approved by government

Two large wind farms off the Norfolk coast have been approved by the government.

The £3bn Race Bank and Dudgeon wind farms will provide enough power for 730,000 homes, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said.

A third proposed development, the Docking Shoal wind farm, has been refused over wildlife concerns.

Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry said the wind farms would create "significant investment and jobs".

Race Bank, which will be developed by Centrica, and Dudgeon, created by Warwick Energy, will produce a combined total of more than 1GW of energy.

Docking Shoal, also proposed by Centrica, was refused by the government because of its potential impact on sandwich tern seabirds in The Wash off the Norfolk coast, which are protected by environmental legislation.

'Important milestone'

Mr Hendry said: "The UK is racing ahead of the global field and these two new offshore wind farms underline this momentum.

"These two projects will not only bring us considerable amounts of clean energy but significant investment and jobs, too.

"We have also shown that we are mindful of other consequences, such as the impact on bird populations, in deciding that it would not be appropriate to consent all three applications."

In a statement, Centrica's managing director Mark Hanafin said obtaining consent for Race Bank was an "important milestone", adding the company would "undertake a thorough appraisal of its project costs, with a view to making a final investment decision on Race Bank early in 2013".

He said investment remained dependant on the outcome of the government's renewable obligation banding review.

Race Bank, off the coast of north Norfolk and Lincolnshire, would be connected via underground cable to the National Grid at an existing substation in Walpole, Norfolk.

It would produce more than double the power of the 75-turbine Lincs wind farm being constructed nearby.

Mark Petterson, project director for Warwick Energy, said the decision on the Dudgeon wind farm, off the Norfolk coast at Cromer, was a "major step forward for the project, the offshore wind industry and for the UK economy".

Mr Petterson said the wind farm, which would contain about 100 turbines, would create up to 100 long-term jobs.

He added the company hoped to receive consent for an onshore substation soon so construction could begin next year.

The refused Docking Shoal wind farm would have been built next to Race Bank, Centrica said.

A spokesman said it had not yet decided whether it would appeal against the DECC's decision.

Richard Powell, regional director for the National Trust, welcomed the decision to reject Docking Shoal, stating it was a "good day for north Norfolk's important sandwich tern population".

"Although we support renewable energy sources in the appropriate place, we had deep concerns about the cumulative number of bird strikes that could have been caused by all three arrays going forward," Mr Powell added.

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