A MASSIVE expansion of the Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay has been given the go-ahead by Government.
The scheme will see the farm quadruple in size and is one of eight major renewable energy projects, expected to support 8,500 jobs, to have been given approval.
The application for a proposed extension to the Burbo Bank wind farm was shown the green light by the London-based Planning Inspectorate a year ago, but faced further scrutiny and public consultation.
Now an additional 65 turbines will be set up four miles off the coast covering an area of 40sq km.
Each turbine will have a maximum "tip height" of 770ft. Energy company Dong presently has 30 devices operating in the area.
The wind farms could cost up to £1bn each year in subsidies, but the Government says they would encourage firms to invest much more than that in low-carbon electricity generation.
Last summer, Wirral Council expected it would be asked to provide an important “Local Impact Report” enabling it to formally set out its concerns about the controversial proposal.
But the authority was told the Government ruled it required no such review from Wirral.
A document for councillors said the reports are only allowed from councils that are directly affected by a development – "and in this case the application is in offshore waters outside any English local authority boundary.”
Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the projects would help power up to three million homes.
He also expects them to attract £12bn in private investment.
The eight projects will all receive one of the Government's "Contracts for Difference", which effectively guarantee prices for renewable energy suppliers.
Mr Davey said there were more potential renewable energy projects than the Government was able to back, and if one of the eight initial projects did not go ahead, then another similar project would be supported.
"We are confident that the eight will go ahead, but if a company decides not to go ahead.... there will be another one queuing up behind," Mr Davey told the BBC's Today programme.
"These investments are critical to make sure we have got secure, clean energy," he said, pointing to energy supply issues arising from the Ukraine crisis."
Mr Davey also said the projects would add nearly 5% to the UK clean energy supply.
"These are the first wave of our reforms, designed to stimulate investment in low carbon energy, but in a more affordable way than previously," he said.
However, he added that the measures would add 2% to household energy bills by 2020, when it is hoped some 30% of electricity will come through renewable means.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it expected the investment contracts for the successful projects would obtain Parliamentary approval in May, when they would then take legal effect.
Wirral Council leader Clllr Phil Davies, who is also chairman of the new Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: "You always have to balance the environmental impact against the potential for economic development, but I think that generally this decision is good news.
"It particularly offers new job opportunities at Cammell Laird, which is winning orders for its offshore wind farm work."
The approved schemes also include wind farms off the Moray, Norfolk and Yorkshire coasts.