The government, through the Crown Estate, has been allocating large areas of the North Sea for offshore wind turbine development. There are three large Wind Farms proposed or being constructed off the coast of Suffolk.
The Greater Gabbard Wind Farm, 14 miles off the Suffolk coast, is almost complete. It will deliver 500MW of electricity from 140 turbines, enough to power around 500,000 homes.
It is proposed that Greater Gabbard be extended, with another 140 wind turbines sited around 17 miles off our coast, in what is known as the Galloper Wind Farm. This application for this project has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, and the application will be considered later this year.
The East Anglia Offshore Wind Farm is the second largest proposed offshore wind farm in the UK, at 6,000km2, and with an indicative capacity of 7,200MW, could power over 5 million homes, according to the project developers. The Planning Inspectorate is expecting an application by 1st November 2012.
Suffolk County Council is a supporter of offshore wind. We understand the importance of the transition to low carbon energy sources and our ambition is that Suffolk makes a big contribution, becoming the greenest county in the United Kingdom.
We also recognise the economic importance of this industry. Many Suffolk jobs, especially in Lowestoft, already depend on offshore wind. Current estimates of the value of offshore wind and maintenance locally is £3bn to 2020, and the industry is seen as sustainable for 60 years.
Suggestions are that by 2030, offshore wind could secure some 2,300 direct operations and maintenance jobs, and 1,500 supply chain jobs.
But we believe that the infrastructure for bringing this electricity onshore is not sufficiently coordinated. As a result, some of our precious landscapes are threatened by the need to increase the number of pylons onshore. Through our Campaign for Strategic Electricity Networks, we are lobbying to secure a strategic approach that protects Suffolk’s landscape.