WORKERS building Europe’s biggest offshore wind farm off North Wales are a step closer to their place of work as a new multi-million-pound pontoon is up and running.
The ten-berth pontoon at the port of Mostyn will make it quicker and easier for wind turbine engineers and technicians to get to and from the Gwynt y Mor Offshore Wind Farm project, currently the largest in construction in Europe.
Project bosses say the new access will save time and money for workers during the construction and operational phases of the 160-turbine farm, due to be fully operational in Liverpool Bay and off the North Wales coast by the end of 2014.
The pontoon has helped create 110 new long-term skilled jobs at the wind farm and is designed to be used by 10 boats at any one time.
Boats can transfer up to 12 passengers per journey in the one-hour transit time to the wind farm, the nearest point of which is eight miles off shore at Rhos-On-Sea.
RWE Innogy UK’s Gwynt y Mor Project Director, Toby Edmonds, said: “Completing the pontoon has been an important step forward in the development of both the construction and operations facilities for Gwynt y Mor at the Port of Mostyn.
“We are delighted the facility is up and running and is delivering the anticipated efficiency improvements we expected to the offshore works.
“Transfer times to Gwynt y Mor have reduced, allowing technicians and engineers more time to work on the turbines.
“In addition, the new pontoon is less tidally restricted, so access to and from the port is greatly enhanced.”
Much of the port has previously been redeveloped, including a reinforced quay side in preparation for the wind farm which has an estimated 25-year life span.
The pontoon was commissioned with power, water and refuelling locations built in.
Consent for the development was granted by the Welsh Government last March and construction undertaken by BAM Nuttall during the summer.
Gwynt y Mor Offshore Wind Farm project will be capable of generating enough energy from renewable sources to power the equivalent of about 400,000 homes, around a third of the total number of homes in Wales.
The project will also pay more than £19 million in community funding over the wind farm’s working lifetime, in addition to a £690,000 payment to a tourism fund.