Work on a controversial development of a major wind farm off the North Wales coast restarts next week as rows continue over the plans.
One of Europe’s largest construction vessels enters Welsh waters next week to work on npower renewables’ Rhyl Flats Offshore Wind Farm.
The Heavy Lifting Vessel (HLV) Svanen – manned by 40 mariners and construction staff – will work 24 hours a day to install the foundations for the 25 turbines at the site at the eastern side of Constable Bank, five miles off the coast of Llandudno and Colwyn Bay.
Although the project is moving forward there remains firm opposition to the plan with campaigners demanding a full public inquiry.
They recently presented their case before the Welsh Assembly Petitions committee – alleging that the public was not given a proper chance to comment on the plans in 2002 because of the misleading name in the original proposal by Celtic Offshore Wind Limited (COWL) over the location of the site.
They also say an independent inquiry is required to assess the environmental impact of the work and the wind farm’s potential damage to the tourist trade.
npower said it has made the location of the site clear since purchasing the project from COWL in December 2002.
They are now pushing ahead with the development. npower renewables’ project manager Gareth Penhale said: “The restart of the main offshore construction works is a key milestone in the delivery of this significant renewable energy project.
“Once operational, Rhyl Flats Offshore Wind Farm will generate enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of around 61,000 homes, and prevent the release of tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.”
HLV Svanen has worked around the world on major construction projects. Its distinctive heavy lifting crane is capable of hoisting an incredible 8,500 tonnes and stands over 260 feet high.
Planning consent conditions allow the main offshore works to be carried out between April and September, with certain activities such as cable and turbine installation permitted up to mid December. These timings are designed to avoid disturbance to the common scoter, a protected bird species.
There will be some sound from the piling work and this may be audible under certain conditions.
Project manager Gareth Penhale said: “We will do our very best to avoid carrying out piling work at night and to keep noise to a minimum.
“We are working with local environmental health officers to ensure we do all we can to keep the noise to a minimum.”
by Owen R Hughes
5 April 2008