WORK has started on the building of two giant wind turbines that will dramatically cut energy costs and help safeguard jobs at a leading Northumberland pharmaceutical company.
The 125 metre-high machines will tower over the 400-job Merck Sharp and Dohme manufacturing plant in Cramlington, and will eventually provide 80% of the site’s electricity needs.
Construction work began earlier this week and it is expected that the two-megawatt turbines will have come through testing and be fully operational by the end of October.
They were given the green light two years ago by a Government planning inspector, after MSD appealed against Blyth Valley Council’s refusal of planning permission on air safety grounds. The company argued that the turbines would allow it to generate its own renewable power and ensure jobs were protected through increased efficiency.
Planning inspector Graham Self concluded that permission should be granted subject to a radar upgrade scheme being submitted by Newcastle Airport and given safety approval by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Yesterday MSD said the two turbines will bring significant environmental and cost benefits to the Cramlington site.
The facility began operations in 1975 and has an automated packaging plant built in 1993 which is recognised as an industry-wide centre of excellence.
Senior director of operations, Martin Inskip, said: “These wind turbines will allow us to offset a significant proportion of the electrical energy costs of our site.
“Anything which helps us to reduce our operating costs, while also benefiting the environment, is a great achievement for our company.”
The company said approval for the project in 2008 followed consultations with the former Blyth Valley Council, Newcastle Airport, the Ministry of Defence and its Cramlington neighbours.
The Cramlington site is MSD’s largest supplier of tablets, and incorporates leading edge manufacturing technologies, high-volume packaging lines, a fully automated warehouse and paperless manufacturing operations.
It is the company’s largest formulation and packing facility outside the United States.
MSD first sought planning permission for the wind turbines in 2007, a year after its neighbouring Cramlington pharmaceutical company Aesica had also applied to build two turbines next to its factory.
Both applications were opposed by Newcastle Airport because of fears that the four machines would cause problems for the air traffic control radar system.
They were rejected by Blyth Valley councillors but while MSD successfully challenged the decision, Aesica later withdrew its appeal.
Page 3 - Plans for state-of-the-art power plant go on show >>
Plans for state-of-the-art power plant go on show
A GREEN power company has released the first images of a major new generating plant which is set to strengthen Northumberland's growing reputation as a leading centre for renewable energy.
The 100 megawatt biomass power station – which would produce enough annual electricity to meet the needs of 170,000 homes – is planned at Battleship Wharf in North Blyth.
Now images of what the facility would look like are being revealed to local residents by developer Renewable Energy Systems at a series of public exhibitions.
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