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Two billion pound Rampion wind farm plans to go before the government’s Planning Inspectorate

Ambitious proposals for a two billion pound wind farm project off the coast of Shoreham are being put to the government this month.

The Rampion scheme from energy firm E.On could provide power across the county to around 450,000 homes. Its unprecedented scale has attracted huge interest since it was first unveiled by the company earlier this year.

Set eight miles off the coast of Shoreham, it would form a landmark feature visible between Worthing and Brighton, with plans for between 150-195 turbines at the core of its design.

According to the firm, the key to its proposals lie in utilising new technology which would enable turbines to be active more than 90 per cent of the time – unlike many land-based wind farms which have endured criticism over their efficiency.

If given consent from the government, it is hoped construction would begin in 2014.

While there has been a strong level of enthusiasm for its eco-friendly credentials, key issues have been raised from groups including the Shoreham Beach Residents’ Association, which expressed concern on its visual impact.

In response, E,On staged a series of public consultations this summer. As a result, a number of aspects of the scheme have undergone revisions, including the number of turbines proposed. Their exact specification has yet to be revealed, but are reported as ranging between 128 metres and 172 metres each in height and would be constructed in Denmark.

Though their development will be in Europe , there has also been liaison with companies across our region, with 600 firms identified as potential service and parts providers.

Clearly, the scheme could deliver a significant economic benefit, but hopes of siting a maintenance base at Shoreham Port (with the prospect of upto 85 jobs) were dashed last month, as this was awarded to a rival bid from Newhaven. However, the company is confident of the benefits to the entire area which the scheme will provide.

Chris Tomlinson, development manager for the project, said E.On had carefully reviewed all feedback, including concerns over visual impact in its designs.

He said: “We’re very grateful for the level of interest the local community have shown in this project. Having considered their feedback and taken on board their views, we’ve made some significant changes to improve our proposals that will reduce the impact on the local community.”

Bryan Turner, Worthing Borough Council’s cabinet member responsible for regeneration welcomed the scheme, which he felt would have a positive impact.

He said: “After attending the consultation on the Rampion wind farm it seemed people were split 50/50 on it, but from an economic point of view it’s a “no-brainer.”

Some people have said that they don’t like the view it would create but I would much rather live near something like that than a coal or nuclear power station.

“It is disappointing that Shoreham did not get the maintenance contract and hope there will be engineering opportunities in the future, as these turbines will need replacing, so we need to be developing our engineering roles at our colleges.”