THE first wind farm off the South Coast is now officially open.

The Rampion Offshore Wind Farm promises to create enough power for 350,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by about 600,000 tonnes annually for the next 25 years.

Chris Tomlinson, development and stakeholder manager for Rampion, said: “Today is a celebration of the people who have taken this project from an early idea to a reality.

“It’s a celebration, but there’s also a tinge of sadness because I have been working with a team of people for up to eight years and it’s sad that it has come to an end.

“But, what excites me the most is that I live in Brighton and when I walk down the seafront I always see people looking at the wind farm, talking about it and taking pictures, and that’s the ultimate satisfaction for me.”

The Crown Estate awarded exclusive rights to develop the site in January 2010.

Following engagement, engineering and environmental surveys, as well as a consultation period, a final development consent application was submitted in March 2013

Then in July 2014, the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm was awarded development consent by the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (now part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).

Construction began in the autumn of 2015 and it first delivered power to the grid in November 2017.

The site has been in full operation since the spring, but was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, at an event at the i360 on Brighton seafront yesterday.

The launch was attended by some 50 people, including councillors from the area and investors and stakeholders of the project.

The wind farm is 13km off the coast and is owned by energy

providers E.ON and Enbridge, and the UK Green Investment Rampion Ltd.

Michael Lewis, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: “Wind power, both onshore and offshore, continues to prove itself as a key part of the UK’s future energy mix and sits as a cost-effective alternative to

higher carbon forms of power generation.

“Not only will Rampion play a vital role in helping the UK meet its commitment to decarbonise the energy sector but it will continue to support the local economy, sparking the regeneration of Newhaven Port, sustaining highly skilled roles including apprenticeships as well as introducing the £3.1 million Rampion Fund for community organisations and projects over the next decade.”

The Rampion Fund is managed by the Sussex Community Foundation and supports organisations such as charities and community groups working in Sussex.

The wind farm was originally known as Zone 6, but in 2010 E.ON ran a competition among schools in the area to rename it.

This was won by Megan McCullough and Georgia Starr, of Davison High School, Worthing, who suggested Rampion after the round-headed rampion plant, also known as the Pride of Sussex. Georgia was at the opening.

Matt Porter, associate director of the Green Investment Group, said: “Projects like Rampion simply aren’t possible without the

skill, dedication and vision of a huge number of people and together we have delivered a world class development which will bring low-

carbon electricity to the UK for many years to come.

“We’re incredibly proud of Rampion and hope, like its namesake, it’s a source of pride for the whole of Sussex.”