The Crown Estate will permit a mast to be placed on the seabed up to 40m above the average water level carrying wind energy monitoring equipment (anemometers) at five sites around the British coast.

The Crown Estate, which includes extensive urban, agricultural and marine interests, is the property of the Queen of England in right of the Crown. It is not Government property but neither is it part of the Queen’s private estates.

There is significant interest in the UK in offshore wind farms based on successful examples in countries such as Denmark. The Crown Estate agreed to facilitate anemometry studies following the launch of the UK Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) consultation paper at the British Wind Energy Association’s conference in September 1998.

The Crown Estate will work with the DTI on a government-led procedure aimed at bringing forward the development of offshore wind farms. The early monitoring of sites will help to provide key data necessary for evaluating the viability of full-scale development.

The Crown Estate has issued agreements for the following sites: Robin Rigg, Solway Firth; North Hoyle, North Wales; Scarweather Sands, South Wales; Kentish Flats, Thames Estuary; and Off Ingoldmells Point, Lincolnshire.

Allowing for the statutory consents to be gained and contracts to be placed, the equipment is expected to be in place within the next four months.

Welcoming the Crown Estate’s decision, Simon Reddy, Greenpeace campaigner, said: “The development of offshore wind, in an environmentally sensible and sensitive manner, will allow the UK to modernise its energy industry for our future.”

Previous studies have shown that the UK’s offshore wind resource is equivalent to three times the UK’s current electricity usage. The UK has the best offshore wind resource in Europe with over 33% of the total European potential.

Denmark has already had considerable success in the development of its offshore wind industry. Currently, 13,000 people are employed in the Danish wind industry and Denmark controls 60% of the world wind market, with sales of US$ 750 million.

“It is imperative that the wind industry in the UK is supported by initiatives such as this if we are to move away from the dirty, unsustainable practices of our past,” added Reddy.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie