Green Light for World’s Second Largest Wind Farm

December 10, 2008 Updated: December 10, 2008

One of the biggest projects in the world to harness wind power has been given the go ahead. But local residents fear it will damage the tourist economy.

The Gwynt y Môr wind farm, 8 miles off the coast of the U.K. in North Wales, was given the stamp of approval by the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) 3 Dec.

Together with with three other neighboring offshore wind farms, it will have the potential to power the equivalent of 680,000 homes, making it the world’s second largest wind farm after Florida, U.S.

"The North Wales coast is set to become a powerhouse for renewable energy,” said the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband in a statement.

Affirming the government’s commitment to reducing the country’s carbon footprint he said that Britain “must clean up its energy supply to fight the damaging effects of climate change.”

In October, environmental action group Friends of the Earth urged the government to support the scheme.

However there was opposition to the decision on the Industrial Wind Action Group website. Welsh government Assembly Member for Aberconwy, Gareth Jones said the Gwynt y Môr wind farm was “a slap in the face and an affront to the democratically-expressed wishes of the people of Wales.”

Two hundred and fifty colossal 100-meter-tall turbines powered by three 40-meter long rotating blades will produce 750MW of clean electricity.

The British Wind Energy Association welcomed the news hailing the Npower Renewables Ltd development as well on the way to meeting the government’s renewable energy target of 15 percent by 2020.

"It brings the total offshore projects with planning approval to 4.5 GW, solidifying U.K's position as leader in offshore wind energy.”

John Lawson-Reay, chairman of Save Our Scenery (SOS), a group protesting the wind farm, points to a report that states the wind farm will damage the look of the coast.

According to the special report commissioned by the Wales Tourist Board, the wind farm will severely damage a coastline designated as a Natural Heritage Site and an area of outstanding natural beauty, thereby impacting tourism.

The Mayor of Colwyn Bay expressed his concern that there would be too many tall turbines close to the shore and that the “visual impact would be nil” if it were built further out to sea.

“The stunning natural landscape … is now under threat,” he said.