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London Array Gets the PM's Vote

05/07/2013 10:19 BST | Updated 03/09/2013 10:12 BST

Today I was lucky enough to attend the official opening of London Array offshore wind farm. With its 175 turbines, and its capacity of 630 megawatts, London Array is now officially the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

Today's inauguration, as well as marking a significant day in the project's history, also points the way for the offshore wind sector in the UK. It gives us a glimpse of the future and the type of environmental and economic benefits that communities up and down the country will see as a result of offshore wind.

It is certainly an indication of just how far the offshore wind sector has come in the UK since the first two offshore turbines were installed off the coast at Blyth in Northumberland back in 2001. What a long way we have come in a comparatively short space of time.

Today we heard the Prime Minister say ""This is a great day for Britain and a big win for renewable energy. London Array shows you can build large scale renewable energy projects right here in Britain. This is because when it comes to clean energy, the UK has one of the clearest investment climates globally".

Such a strong signal from the very top of our political establishment is doubly welcome as it will help to put an end to the siren calls from the naysayers who've failed to appreciate the scale of the opportunity that the UK has as the global leader in offshore wind.

Wind farms such as London Array are generating clean electricity for British homes, giving us a secure home-grown supply of energy which stops us having to import expensive and environmentally-damaging fossil fuels which have been driving our bills up unacceptably.

We're witnessing a massive expansion in the number of people we employ in the UK's wind industry, from about 12,000 now to 76,000 by the dawn of the next decade, as long as Government remains supportive - today Mr Cameron has assured us that it will.

As well as celebrating today's official opening of a monumental feat of green engineering, everyone in the offshore sector is now looking forward to the Government publishing the Electricity Market Reform draft delivery plan, as well as the Industrial Strategy for offshore wind, later this month.

This will follow last month's publication of the draft strike prices for offshore wind under Contracts for Difference, which are challenging, and highlight the need for cost reduction as swiftly as possible by the offshore sector.

The prize is within our grasp. If we can get the policy framework working in a way that brings investors and Government together then today's event will be just the first of many major offshore project inaugurations that I will be hoping to attend over the coming years.

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