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Wind farm sub-station gets green light

THE creation of a massive wind farm off the Kent coast generating sustainable energy for Kent and East Sussex is a step closer.

When fully operational, it is estimated that the London Array project would generate around £40 million for the economy through employment, goods and services.

More than 270 turbines covering an area two-thirds the size of the Isle of Wight are planned, and the first phase of the pioneering scheme and 175 turbines could be in place by 2010.

The final hurdle facing the project was opposition from Swale council to the 12-acre sub-station at Cleve Hill, Graveney, that is vital to the wind farm.

Despite a long and intense campaign for the sub-station to be relocated, the Government has upheld London Array's planning application which was originally turned down last year.

Government inspector David Rose held an inquiry in March, and John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, backed his decision to give the go-ahead to the sub-station.

Andrew Murfin, project director of London Array, said: "We are very pleased with the Government's decision to support the planning inspector's recommendation to grant planning permission for our proposed sub-station at Cleve Hill, following the public inquiry.

"This decision, in conjunction with the offshore consents granted last December, is a major milestone in the ongoing development of the 1000mw London Array offshore wind project and its onshore connection to the national grid."

Port Ramsgate could be the focal point for the London Array project with servicing and construction work earmarked for the western end of the harbour, with a £10 million quay built from private funding.

More than 150 people would be employed to work on the turbines, while up to 800 workers would be needed during the building of the giant pieces of machinery.

The same height as the London Eye, each turbine could produce 4000kw of energy, with each blade the same as the wingspan of a 747 jet.

Another invaluable spin-off for the port could be providing a home to contractors building the massive reinforced concrete 400 ton bases that are up to 150ft tall.

London Array director Peter Crone said the windfarm development "is a chance that the east Kent economy cannot afford to miss. It is the single biggest project in the area since the building of the Channel Tunnel".

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