Belfast Telegraph

Job hopes as harbour agrees wind farm plan

By Heather McGarrigle

Belfast Harbour has welcomed progress on a wind farm project which could secure up to 450 jobs in Belfast.

Danish energy firm DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables have agreed to progress on the construction of the £1.6bn offshore windfarm in the Irish Sea, to be known as 'West of Duddon Sands'.

In February, Belfast Harbour signed a letter of intent with DONG Energy to develop a new 50-acre terminal to support the assembly of turbines for the windfarm.

Joe O'Neill, Belfast Harbour's commercial director, said he was "delighted" the windfarm had received the go-ahead.

"Belfast Harbour and DONG Energy can now finalise proposals to construct a dedicated, £40m-plus installation and pre-assembly terminal," he said.

"This will be one of the largest, if not the largest ever, investment by Belfast Harbour and provides a great opportunity to develop Belfast as one of the UK's leading green economy hubs."

If the agreement is finalised, the harbour is set to be significantly upgraded and become one of the UK's first bespoke offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbours.

Contractors are due to be appointed soon, with work at Belfast Harbour beginning on site in the near future.

It is estimated up to 150 construction jobs will be created, with an additional 300 full-time staff to be recruited.

In addition to the West of Duddon Sands project, DONG Energy is also involved in building three other UK windfarms, including London Array, which it is believed will be the world's largest offshore windfarm. It is due to become operational next year, with the other two, Walney and Lincs, due to enter operation in 2011 and 2012 respectively.