The UK’s first offshore wind power project, at Blyth, Northumberland, was officially opened on 7 December. It is claimed to be, at 4 MW, the largest operating offshore project in the world, and cost £4 million to build. The two turbines, set 90m above the surface of the sea, were lifted into place in September, and started producing power in mid-November. Speaking at the official opening Energy minister Helen Liddell characterised the project as the early stages of a new industry for the UK, and declared that rapid development of offshore windfarms over the next few years is “a key element in the government’s strategy for renewable energy”. The government is making a total of £89 million available for offshore wind and energy crops projects, primarily as contributions towards the cost of plant construction; it has arranged for the Crown Estate to expedite the release of sites for offshore windfarms and intends to consult the industry soon to establish a procedure by which prospective windfarm builders will be able to obtain more easily the consents they need. Blyth was developed by a consortium of AMEC Border Wind, Powergen Renewables, Nuon UK and Shell Renewables.