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Huge North Sea wind farm gets the green light

Less than a week after David Cameron cut the ribbon on the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the London Array, the Government has given planning permission for an even bigger operation off the Norfolk coast.

The new wind farm announced yesterday will supply electricity for an additional one million homes, requiring an investment of more than £4 billion.

Reforms unveiled by the Government last month gave permission for operators of offshore wind farms to charge between £135 and £155 per megawatt hour for electricity, whereas onshore wind farms will charge £95 to £100 per megawatt hour – roughly twice the current wholesale price of electricity.

The Triton Knoll offshore wind farm, to be built by RWE, involves installing 288 turbines about 25 miles off the coast of Lincolnshire and Norfolk at a cost of £3.6 billion.

The array of turbines, which could be as tall as 220 metres, should create 1,130 jobs during its lifetime and have a producing capacity of 1,200 megawatts per hour – enough to power 820,000 households, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Construction on the wind farm will not start until 2017, once RWE has chosen contractors to build it. This project alone represents a quarter of the new offshore wind capacity that RWE wants permission to build in Europe in the next 18 months.

Vattenfall, the Swedish power company, has started construction of a group of 76 turbines onshore in Wales. The plant is intended to supply enough power for 140,000 homes and create 300 jobs. It will start generating electricity in 2016.

“These two projects will attract billions in investment into the UK,” said Ed Davey, the Energy Minister. “We have provided certainty early to onshore and offshore wind investors and now see significant investment decisions being made that will benefit the UK’s economy for years to come.”