DEVELOPERS are being urged to protect fishing grounds after the Government approved a wind farm off the East Yorkshire coast, reports the Hull Daily Mail.
The wind farm, to the north of the Humber estuary, would be developed at Westermost Rough, five miles off Tunstall, near Withernsea.
Developer Dong Energy will now press ahead with its investigations and is expected to make a final investment decision next year.
The 245MW wind farm would have 35 to 80 turbines, depending on the capacity of each turbine.
The development, which could begin in 2013, is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs.
Christian Skakkebaek, of Dong Energy Renewables UK, said: “We are very pleased to receive the consent on Westermost Rough, which will allow us to proceed with the detailed design and geotechnical investigation of the project.
“The Westermost Rough is an attractive project that benefits from shallow waters, good wind resource and access to suitable ports.”
The firm says it has employed local workers as much as possible on its other projects, which have also included an apprenticeship training scheme.
It also insists it will continue consultations with fishermen who fear they could be forced to leave valuable fishing grounds around the wind farm.
David McCandless, chief officer at North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority, said: “In terms of commercial fisheries, the site is located in a very prolific shellfishing area.
“The fishermen’s biggest concern is there’s still some uncertainty as to whether they will be permitted to work within the boundaries once construction is completed. If they were prohibited, that would cause them some difficulty.”
Mr McCandless said the wind farm site could be colonised by shellfish.
He said: “The site could offer some conservation value. Each turbine, depending on the engineering solution, should have a level of rock armour that will be placed around the turbines to protect them from scarring.
“That, in itself, could offer some opportunities.
“Obviously, you will get shellfish colonising these areas, so it could offer some habitat improvement.
“There could be some possible benefit.”
Mr McCandless said the fishermen are looking to work with the developers.
“It is a big challenge and we will be closely involved in discussions.
“The fishermen are looking as far as possible to work with the developers.
“The wind farm developers are looking to agree levels of mitigation.
“The developers are also receptive to putting funding into their initiatives and projects to try to support the industry.”
Source: footprintrenewables, December 02, 2011; Image: dongenergy