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Wind farm turbine transportation is ‘biggest’ ever load

The dimensions render the phrase “abnormal load” woefully inadequate.

Broken into sections, the wind farm turbines are slowly but surely wending their way to a site in Essex.

The lorries and their loads measure up to 144ft (44m) long – just 3ft (1m) short of the minimum permissible width of a professional football pitch.

Essex Police say getting the turbines to their destination is their “biggest and most complex operation” ever involving loads on the roads.

The turbine pieces are so large that in some areas street signs have been taken down and road layouts changed to accommodate the lorries.

The towers are in three sections with the biggest load being 111ft (34m) long and 96 tonnes in weight.

‘Trickier turns’

Individual blades weigh in at 43 tonnes – the equivalent of seven Routemaster buses.

Having come from Grimsby, the lorries pick up their police escort – one car and three motorbikes – the moment they leave the A12.

Their destination is Bradwell on the Essex coast, where RWE Npower renewables are building a 10-turbine wind farm.

Adam Pipe, of Essex Police, said: “A great deal of planning and preparation has gone into this operation to ensure that the disruption to other road users is kept to a minimum.

“The loads will travel at off peak times and in daylight for safety reasons and we have plans in place to keep traffic moving on other roads when the loads slow down to negotiate trickier turns and junctions.

“We will run the convoys as and when required by the contractors and will arrange two convoys per day wherever possible.”

Yet despite all the advance planning, the operation has not been hitch-free.

On Tuesday, police had to urge motorists to avoid Fambridge Road after one of the lorries broken down near a pub. The road was closed for about four hours.

Although the job of bringing the sections into Bradwell will continue for the next couple of weeks, the first sections are already going up.

Once finished, the turbines will have a total height of 393ft (120m).

The wind farm project was opposed by a number of people living in the area and only got permission after a second public inquiry in 2010.

Project manager Michael Williams said planning for the site had been a long process stretching back about 10 years.

He said he hoped the first electricity would come from the turbines this summer.