Offshore Sussex wind farm weather mast causes 999 calls

Weather mast
Image caption The 110m (360ft) mast was installed in April to measure wind speed, wave height and sea currents

A meteorological mast used to survey the site of a proposed wind farm has caused people to dial 999 believing it is a ship in distress.

The 110m (360ft) mast has been installed by energy company E.ON, which hopes to construct up to 195 turbines off the Brighton coast.

Its red and white flashing lights have been mistaken for S.O.S. signals.

Karen Bosman, who is a watch officer at Solent Coastguard, said: "We've had a number of 999 calls."

The mast was installed in April to measure wind speed, wave height and sea currents.

'Flashing lights'

"Obviously we don't want to discourage people from calling in," said Ms Bosman.

"This mast is 110m high so it's quite visible, so we're getting an awful lot of calls about this vessel in distress.

"Thank goodness we know exactly where it is and the sequence of the flashing lights, so it would be a simple task to determine from the informant as to whether it's the windfarm or not."

According to E.ON, the Rampion offshore wind farm could create enough electricity to power up to 450,000 homes.

A spokeswoman for the energy company said: "At night, the mast has a constant red aviation warning light at the top of the 110m structure and a flashing white marine navigation light nearer to sea level.

"If you see this on the horizon there is no need to alert the authorities."

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