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130131 | Turbine set to guard St Ives Bay | This is Cornwall


Turbine set to guard St Ives Bay

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Cornishman

A WIND turbine visible from every point across St Ives Bay could be installed off the coast of Hayle as early as 2015.

The single turbine, ten miles off the north coast, would be the first in the UK to be built on a floating platform and would sit above the pioneering Wave Hub.

Wave Hub Ltd is working with the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) – a part public, part private UK-based company – on the £25 million project.

Initial studies have shown it is technically feasible to use the site and the organisations are now in the process of seeking further consent.

A decision by the Marine Management Organisation on whether a further environmental impact assessment will need to take place is expected by March.

Wave Hub general manager Claire Gibson said she was working to make sure the innovative project had economic benefits for Cornwall.

She said: "The existing wind farms have fixed structures but because those offshore wind sites are becoming deeper they are having to look at different technology for stabilising the wind turbines, so they are looking at whether a floating platform is an option.

"Our job is to hopefully make sure there are some economic benefits that follow."

ETI is set to confirm its plans to deploy on the site by early next year.

Ms Gibson said she hoped public reaction to the turbine plans would be positive.

"It's visible from the shore," she told a Hayle town council meeting. "We need to be open with you about that. We have had some positive responses from the locals, pleased that they might be able to see something, but obviously there are others who (might) not."

She added that they were not talking about taking up any additional areas of sea and that "it is a single turbine; it's not a farm that we're talking about".

John Pollard, Cornwall councillor for Hayle North, said: "I'm delighted that there's growing interest in using the Wave Hub and we must remember that the whole project is designed to test different forms of generator.

"It will be interesting to understand the public's reaction to a wind turbine, as this is something of a departure and we know from other areas that opinion can be negative."

Hayle's mayor Jayne Ninnes said it was important for the town and for employment opportunities that the Wave Hub was a success.

"Clearly the town council has not made a decision on this but we are keen to support development at the Wave Hub," she said.

She added that once a planning application was submitted it would be looked at by the council on its merits: "I accept there would need to be a debate about it.

"I think it's a subject that will divide people, but the Wave Hub needs to succeed."

The project is still in the early stages and the ETI has invited bids from developers.

The selection process is now almost completed and it is expected that the contract will be awarded early this year.

The ETI is funding the next phase, with further technical studies and site investigations.

Wave Hub is a £42 million infrastructure project consisting of a giant socket on the seabed connected to the National Grid on shore by an underwater cable.

It was announced earlier this month that Cork-based Ocean Energy Ltd (OEL) had been awarded a three-year licence by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which will allow it to deploy its 9 million euro device.

However, Ms Gibson added that the project was not moving as fast as had been anticipated, citing the difficulty of obtaining funding for research in the tough economic climate as the main obstacle.