Wind Farm Firm Created 1,000 Wallsend Jobs

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An engineering firm is to create up to 1,000 new jobs after receiving a Government grant to build foundations for offshore wind farms, it has been announced.

Offshore Group Newcastle (OGN) said the £640,000 grant was a “vote of confidence” for its move into offshore wind technology.

The firm said it will build a prototype steel-jacketed foundation at its site in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, starting later this year.

The foundation structures will be designed for large wind turbine generators in waters over 30 metres (100ft) deep.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “The coalition is determined to drive ambitious green growth and this is putting our money where our mouth is. This cash shows we are delivering on our commitment to support innovation and offshore wind.

“Making wind turbines more efficient is common sense and will help bring down the costs, making them more attractive to build and helping us increase the amount of electricity we get from clean, green sources.

OGN chief executive David Edwards said: “We are delighted to have been selected for this grant. Government support is especially vital in the early stages of project development. The offshore wind energy market is crucial to Britain’s future energy needs and we will do our utmost to ensure that this grant takes the UK into an even stronger role as the lead player in this sector.”

Graham Kennedy, OGN’s chief technical officer, said: “The offshore wind market is dynamic and requires an efficient and driven supply chain to support and deliver its objectives – our Triton design and technology has the potential to reduce the costs of offshore wind foundations by at least 25%, making wind energy a viable renewable energy source for the UK.”

OGN was founded in 2010 and employs around 1,200 workers in Wallsend and Lowestoft, in Suffolk.

Wind farms are not ‘bird blenders’ – RSPB

Wind farms are not ‘bird blenders’, a new study has found, but the construction does damage populations of curlew, snipe and red grouse.

Researchers from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Scottish Natural Heritage and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) looked at 10 bird species at 18 wind farm sites in the UK.

They found minimal impact on birds from flying into rotating turbines.

However the study, published in the Journal of Applied Biology, found strong evidence that some species suffered serious harm while wind farms are being built.

Curlew numbers remained “significantly lower” after the wind farms began operating, as they abandoned nesting sites. Snipe numbers also failed to recover, falling by more than half within 400m of the study sites. Red grouse numbers also fell but rose again after construction finished.

The study’s authors said these findings were balanced out by the discovery that two species, the skylark and stonechat – which prefer open, broken and short vegetation – flourished during the building phase. The other species, such as meadow pipit, golden plover, wheatear, dunlin and lapwings, showed either no change or less certain reactions

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