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Wind farm blow does not dent green hopes 

The scrapping of a planned offshore wind farm near Cromer has not becalmed plans to make the Greater Wash a major player in Britain’s green energy revolution.

A £110m, 30-turbine scheme off north Norfolk which would have powered 72,000 homes has been scrapped because of seabed problems, as reported in yesterday’s EDP.

But last night the government said there were still plans afoot for more than 350 turbines in the area.

A spokesman for the Department for Trade and Industry (Dti) said: “The Cromer scheme is a setback, but there is excellent progress being made elsewhere.”

Plans by Scira at Sheringham Shoal for 108 turbines, nearly twice as high as Norwich Cathedral, which would generate enough power for 176,000 homes, are awaiting Dti consent.

And a spokesman for the department said developers were working on a further three schemes at the Docking Shoal, Race Bank and Dudgeon East, which would provide a further 360 turbines.

This week bosses of Norfolk’s only operating windfarm, at Scroby Sands, which was the second to be built in Britain, said early teething troubles which hit performance had been unusual – and that the wind energy industry, and its technology, was developing at a phenomenal rate.

It is five years since the Cromer plan was first launched, with hopes of being operational by 2005. The farm, located about four miles off the north Norfolk coast, would have 30 turbines measuring 140m tall, with the power lines coming ashore at Overstrand.

The project, known as Norfolk Offshore Wind, won government consent in 2003 and was designed to have a lifespan of 20 years.

The scheme had its critics, particularly local fishermen who feared the impact on the local crab grounds, and said the turbines would drive passing shipping inshore amid the working crab boats.

But the killer blow came from the backers themselves who spent three years trying to find a way to build the turbines on a tricky seabed but failed to come up with a viable solution.

Head of renewables at EDF, Jeremy Bush, said the project team had “considered a number of engineering options to try to take the project forward, but unfortunately none of the options could provide effective solutions to the problem at the site.”

EDF spokesman Jonathan Levy said surveys revealed the sub-sea strata did not have the load-bearing capacity required. The project had taken a long while to be aborted because of the various attempts to find engineering solutions.

He could not however reveal how much money EDF had spent on the aborted Cromer scheme as it was “commercially confidential”.


7 March 2007

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