South West development agencies welcome windfarm announcement

THE South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDW) and Regen SW have both welcomed today s announcement by Gordon Brown and the Crown Estate, of the winning companies selected as development partners for the Round 3 Offshore Wind farms. They said the dev

THE South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDW) and Regen SW have both welcomed today's announcement by Gordon Brown and the Crown Estate, of the winning companies selected as development partners for the Round 3 Offshore Wind farms.

They said the development marked a step-change in the deployment of renewable energy in the UK and represented a "great" opportunity for the South West, where two offshore wind farm zones have been awarded out of a total of nine nationally.

Swindon-based RWE npower renewables was the successful bidder for the 1.5gigawatt capacity "Atlantic Array" in the Bristol Channel zone, while Dutch energy company Eneco was awarded the smaller 0.9GW West of Wight zone, off the coast of Dorset.

To win these leases both companies had to convince the Crown Estate that they had the capability and financial backing to deliver their projects within a given timeframe.

The huge projects are expected to require capital investment in excess of �5 billion.

Both companies will now begin the development process, including stakeholder consultation and the environmental impact assessments needed to obtain planning permission.

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Claire Gibson, Director of Sustainable Resources at the South West RDA, said: "We look forward to working closely with the winning companies over the coming years. When complete these projects will provide electricity sufficient to meet the demand of over one million South West homes. This is fantastic news for the region and will help to consolidate the region's position at the forefront of renewable energy production."

With construction expected to commence in 2014 and last over 5 years, offshore wind has the potential to create thousands of onshore and offshore jobs.

Johnny Gowdy, Head of Business Support at Regen SW, said: "In some previous offshore developments the amount of local economic benefit has been disappointing. But the South West, with its heritage of marine and engineering industries, is in a very strong position to reap the economic benefits of offshore renewables.

"We now need to work closely with RWE npower renewables and Eneco, and our South West businesses to ensure we have the capabilities, people and infrastructure to support these projects."

As part of this effort the South West RDA, Regen SW and the Crown Estate will be holding an Offshore Wind Supply Chain conference in Bristol on March 9.

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