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Bent mast will not stop new wind farm

The structural failure of a meteorological mast on E.on’s Humber Gateway wind farm should not delay a project that is bringing at least 50 direct jobs to the region.

The huge data recording tower, understood to be at least 70m high, is now bent double, just a few miles off Spurn Point.

A 500m safety exclusion zone for mariners was immediately established around the site by Associated British Ports, which remains in force.

With recent bad weather, further investigation by E.on has been impossible.

Speculation about the reasons for the failure, understood to have occurred early last month, range from a weakening of the structure or fastenings within it, from the combination of tidal and wind buffeting of the mast and the sub-sea piled platform, to human error or even sabotage.

The latter has been mooted but dismissed by many.

A spokesman for the utility giant said: “We are currently assessing the situation. The met mast remains secure and the navigational aids continue to be operational.

“Unfortunately, recent weather conditions have not permitted us to undertake further work. We are not able to give a time period of when the met mast will be repaired or replaced.

“When the weather gets better we will be able to assess the situation.”

Asked about the impact on recorded data, or a timeframe for the 219MW project to be operational, the spokesman said: “With regard to this causing any delay, we currently still expect the project to be completed in spring 2015.”

Featuring 73 turbines within a 25 square mile area, 8km off the East Yorkshire coast, the wind farm comes under the round two projects which are already creating work for companies in Hull and beyond.

With large numbers involved in the build out, anticipated to start next year, 50 direct jobs will be created in the long-term.

There will also be creation and security of more jobs in the wider supply and logistics chain.

E.on’s employees will include 15 land-based staff and 35 offshore maintenance workers.

An operations and maintenance base has been granted planning permission by North East Lincolnshire Council, for the North Quay of Port of Grimsby East, part of an enterprise zone established by the local authority.

Electricity generated by Humber Gateway – enough to power 170,000 homes – will be connected to the National Grid at Saltend, east of Hull. Cables will come ashore at Easington, where the existing gas pipe infrastructure forms the northern boundary of the farm.