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MarketWatch: Shell says London Array off-shore windfarm project delayed

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) Wednesday said the decision of an English local council to reject a planning application for an onshore facility “sets back efforts” to build the world’s largest offshore windfarm, the London Array.

The Swale Borough Council in Kent turned down an onshore planning application to build a substation at Cleve Hill that would link the 1,000-megawatt wind farm to the U.K.’s power grid.

London Array is a project held in partnership with Shell WindEnergy Ltd., a unit of Shell, E.On U.K., the U.K. arm of German utility E.On AG (E.ON) and CORE Ltd.
A Shell spokeswoman said the company was “disappointed” and was currently “assessing our options” concerning the next steps that need to be taken.

The spokeswoman said the decision “sets back efforts to develop the most advanced and largest of the new generation of offshore wind farms,” but “the London Array consortium members (still) remain committed to this very significant project.”
She added we “shall continue our work in support of the other consents needed for the offshore elements of the project,” despite the set back over the onshore substation application.

London Array could generate up to 1,000 MW of renewable electricity, enough for more than 750,000 homes.

The wind farm would also help the U.K. achieve its renewable energy target, which requires electricity suppliers to supply 10% of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, tidal, biomass, and wind, by 2010.
If built, the London Array would account for 10% of the U.K. government’s 2010 renewables targets.

A spokeswoman for the Swale Borough Council said councilors rejected the project to build the substation on grounds that it would spoil the scenic countryside and lead to traffic problems. The councillors “felt that alternatives haven’t been properly explored,” the spokeswoman said.

Allison Hill, spokeswoman for the British Wind Energy Association, said the local council’s decision was “certainly disappointing but by no means the end of the game…There’s too much at stake.”

The BWEA expects offshore wind to account for a quarter of wind power’s contribution to the U.K.’s 2010 renewable energy target.
The London Array is expected to cost GBP1.5 billion and will include the installation of 270 wind turbines. The turbines would be located in the outer Thames Estuary, more than 20 kilometers offshore from the coasts of Essex and Kent.

The London Array consortium has six months to appeal Swale Borough Council’s decision.
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