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MP opens world's biggest offshore windfarm

Lib Dem MP Ed Davey will open the world’s biggest offshore windfarm today – the £1.2bn Walney scheme off Cumbria

The project has more than 100 turbines generating enough power for 320,000 homes.

Mr Davey said: “Britain has a lot to be proud of in our growing offshore wind sector. Our island’s tremendous natural resource, our research base and a proud history of engineering make this the No 1 destination for investment in offshore wind.”

“And Walney is the newest, biggest and fastest-built jewel in that crown, providing clean power for hundreds of thousands of households.”

“Opening Walney during my first week in office lets me underline my commitment to continuing the coalition’s work to make this sector a success story for the British economy, not least with the innovation it is driving and the employment it is creating.”

It comes after 100 Conservative MPs wrote to David Cameron at the weekend calling for renewable energy subsidies to be cut – although their main concern was onshore turbines, which they accused of wrecking the countryside.

British power company SSE and Denmark’s Dong Energy say that Walney breaks a number of records: it has been built more cheaply and quickly than previous schemes, and has been supported by foreign pension funds.

Anders Eldrup, chief executive of Dong, the largest power company in Denmark and operator of the farm, said: “It marks a new era in terms of financing, being the first project in the UK backed by institutional investors. Walney is a landmark in offshore wind and [in] Dong Energy’s strong drive to further industrialise offshore wind power and cut costs.”

The new 367.2MW scheme, which will itself be dwarfed by the massive London Array off Kent when that eventually comes on-stream, is made up of two projects, Walney 1 and 2, off Barrow-in-Furness.

The company claims the second part of the scheme was the quickest-built of its kind, with all turbines and cables installed in less than six months, and that it has achieved considerable cost reductions at a time when critics claim offshore wind is too expensive.