Wind turbines to be visible off coast of Brighton within two years as Rampion offshore wind farm gets formal go-ahead.
Wind turbines will be seen off the south coast of England by 2017 after the first wind farm in the English Channel got the formal go-ahead.
Energy giant E.On said on Monday that it had decided to begin construction on the £1.3 billion, 116-turbine Rampion offshore wind farm, eight miles off the Sussex coast.
The first of the turbines will be installed in early 2017 and the project is due to be completed and generating power by 2018, producing enough electricity for 300,000 homes.
The wind farm, spanning 28 square miles, will be most visible from Brighton and Worthing.
The go-ahead follows a £236 million investment in the project from the Government’s Green Investment Bank.
When the project got planning permission last year, the National Trust and South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) warned that views from the national park, including Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters, would be “unacceptably” spoilt by the turbines.
E.On has since slashed the proposed number of turbines, from 175 down to 116, to try to address the concerns.
The SDNPA also warned at the time that fragile chalk grasslands would be damaged in order to lay 17 miles of onshore power cables for the project.
Trevor Beattie, chief executive of the SDNPA, said: “While concerned with the scale of the project we recognise the benefits of renewable energy and worked closely with Natural England and E.On to get the protected landscapes of the National Park, including the UK’s first heritage coast, taken into account in their proposals.
“The Secretary of State recognised our work and the importance of our landscapes by agreeing to a package of mitigation measures to reduce the impact on both land and people. The additional reduction in number, height and changed configuration of the turbines will help to reduce their impact on the heritage coast.
“We now need to focus on working closely with E.ON to get the best possible result for the National Park. This includes monitoring the burial of 14km of cabling through the National Park and restoration of this area once work has finished. We’ll also have our own projects to enhance the landscape, biodiversity and access in the area.”
The National Trust was not available for comment on the revised proposals.
The project is estimated to be in line for up to £200 million a year in subsidies.
Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary, said: “This huge investment is a vote of confidence in the UK, creating local jobs, bringing business opportunities and providing clean, home-grown energy.”
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