£1billion turbines are nearly ready

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
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Centrica’s £1billion offshore wind farm will be signed off by the end of this month and generate enough power to serve 200,000 homes.

The company, which owns British Gas, breached the Sutton Bridge seabank to lay cables to service the 75 turbines – and a second, much bigger project is in the pipeline that would see a another breach in the sea bank to service 89 turbines at Race Bank, off the Norfolk coast.

Centrica says no final investment decision has been made on Race Bank, but company officials told Sutton Bridge Parish Council they expect to start work in the first quarter of 2015.

The Race Bank turbines will be bigger than those in the Lincs Wind Farm and supply double the amount of power, serving 400,000 homes.

Centrica’s Emily Walker told parish councillors that the company didn’t get Government consent for a third wind farm – at Docking Shoal – because such a big concentration of offshore turbines would kill too many seabirds.

The first breach of the seabank is blamed for a small crack that has appeared on the seaward side, but Centrica consultant Simon Gamage says it’s being monitored and it hasn’t got any worse.

Parish councillor Gary Croxford wants the monitoring to go on longer than the five years stipulated by the Environment Agency in case further problems arise, but Centrica is sticking to the agency’s condition which means there are just three years left.

As well as breaching the seabank, Centrica’s Lincs Wind Farm involved huge disturbance of marshland with a digging machine, known as “Nessie”, used for underground cables.

Ms Walker said a bespoke, lighter digging machine will be used for Race Bank, to create less disturbance and the cables will be buried less deep.

Coun Croxford wanted to know why cables were coming ashore here when the Race Bank turbines are closer to Norfolk and found it hard to believe there weren’t substations available there.

But Mr Gamage said Sutton Bridge was chosen because Walpole is the nearest substation.

Centrica’s operating profits rose by 14 per cent to £2.74billion in 2012 but the company hasn’t given a penny to Sutton Bridge, unlike other energy companies who have developments built or lined up there.

Coun Vicky Hills told the parish council: “Obviously Centrica are in it for the money, but once again Sutton Bridge gets nothing.”

Since the Spalding Guardian asked Centrica about the lack of cash support for the village, the company says it intends to discuss the issue in more detail with the parish council and that step has been welcomed by parish council vice chairman Michael Booth.