Europe’s largest onshore wind farm has been given the go-ahead in Scotland – just as plans to erect the UK’s biggest individual onshore wind turbine in Northumberland were approved by ministers.
The £600m ($1.2bn) Clyde wind farm will have 152 turbines and total capacity of 456MW, enough to power more than 250,000 homes.
The turbine to be built at Blyth will reach 163m, almost 30m taller than the London Eye, and will have generation capacity of up to 7.5MW.
Alex Salmond, first minister, hailed the Clyde wind farm decision as another step towards making Scotland the green energy capital of Europe. His devolved Holyrood government aims to generate 31 per cent of Scotland’s required electricity from renewable sources by 2011, and half by 2020.
Mr Salmond said the announcement meant it was now virtually certain the 2011 target would be met early – a significant milestone on the way to achieving the 2020 target.
The wind farm will be built on either side of the M74 motorway near Abington in south Lanarkshire by Scottish and Southern Energy. It became part of the utility’s development portfolio when SSE bought Airtricity, the Irish wind farm operator, earlier this year for €1.45bn (£1.2bn).
At present, the largest wind farm in Scotland for which planning consent has been granted is Whitelee, on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow. It is under construction and will have a total capacity of 322MW. Currently the biggest operational wind farm in Europe is the 208MW Maranchon development in Guadalajara, Spain.
At Blyth, six smaller 2.5MW machines will also be built nearby as the Northumberland town strives to rejuvenate its outdated wind infrastructure.
Charles Rose, director of Hainsford Energy, which is behind the project, claimed it would transform the site into an “iconic landmark” and help create hundreds of jobs in the former shipbuilding centre.
However, Paul Crossland, chairman of the North Blyth Residents Association, criticised Wansbeck district council and the government for “totally ignoring” concerns over the development’s visible and audible impact on his village.
This view was supported by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity that calls for balanced and sustainable energy policy, which labelled the current legislation governing noise emissions from wind farms a “disgrace”.
Newcastle international airport had also objected to the giant structures on the grounds that they could interfere with its radar, but was overruled.
Wansbeck Blyth Harbour Wind Farm will achieve a tenfold increase in generation output by replacing nine existing turbines, installed at East Pier in 1993.
By Sanjay Odedra and Andrew Bolger
22 July 2008
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