A major wind farm off the north Norfolk coast is gearing up to generating green energy close to the current gas fields.
The Dudgeon scheme 18 miles off Cromer will produce power for 250,000 homes when it sparks into life in 2013.
It will be just a speck on the horizon as it nestles just five miles from the nearest gas platform, and its backers say that environmental issues, such as fishery disturbance, should be minimal.
The Dudgeon site was among a handful of sites in the Greater Wash area released by the government in 2003 along with Sheringham Shoal, and Docking Shoal and the Race Bank further to the west.
The company behind it, Warwick Energy, is currently doing surveys and informal consultations before applying for final official consent by the end of the year, said executive director Mark Petterson.
They included talks with operators of gas platforms, to ensure there was “no conflict”, but also to look at possible synergies between the two industries.
Fishing activity in the area was “relatively limited” said Mr Petterson, who added: “if there is any disturbance we would keep it to a minimum and make disruption payments.”
Ministry of Defence concerns about wind farms affecting defence radar was one potential sticking point. He was hopeful it was getting close to being resolved, but said: “if there is not a solution a lot of windfarms in the Wash will struggle.”
There were also moves afoot to upgrade the “wiring” which brings offshore wind farm power back to land, with moves to extend the network grid, which also had to be taken into account as the plans were developed.
The Dudgeon farm would have up to 100 turbines, which were typically about 110m tall, but it could be down to 60 if Warwick went for bigger, 200m-tall, more powerful versions.
They would stand in about 20m depth of water on a sandy gravel seabed rather than sandbanks, which Warwick Energy tried to avoid because they had more environmental issues, as they attracted fish and bird life.
Warwick is also behind a 30 turbine wind farm scheme at Barrow in the North West and a 100-turbine scheme at Thanet off Kent producing the same kind of 300MW output as Dudgeon.
Mr Petterson said “We are at the early stages with Dudgeon. There is a lot of work to do before a project is viable technically and commercially, but we hope to build and be operating in 2013.”
By Richard Batson
25 February 2008
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