Up to 240 wind turbines will be installed off the coast of Suffolk after the Government gave the green light to the East Anglia One wind farm.
The 1,200MW development is expected to support almost 2,900 jobs during construction and operation and could become the largest offshore wind farm in the world, generating enough electricity to power around 820,000 homes.
Some 1,800 jobs could be supported locally and generate half a billion pounds for the East Anglian economy, including £10 million a year once it is completed, and will and bring more than £520m of investment into the UK economy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: "East Anglia and the rest of the UK have a lot to gain from this development. The project has the potential to inject millions of pounds into the local and national economies, and support thousands of green jobs.
"Making the most of Britain's home grown energy is crucial in creating job and business opportunities, getting the best deal for customers and reducing our reliance on foreign imports."
The scheme is a 50-50 joint venture between Swedish renewable energy firm Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables and should the full 240 turbines be installed it would be significantly larger than the London Array, off the Kent coast, which is currently the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
On top of the turbines the scheme will involve the construction of up to three offshore collector stations and up to two offshore converter stations and their foundations to collect the electricity from the turbines and transform it to a form suitable for transfer to shore.
Up to four seabed export cables, each about 73km long, will transfer the electricity to shore and a landfall site with onshore transition pits will be needed to connect the offshore and onshore cables.
Up to four onshore underground cables, each about 37km long, will then transfer the electricity from landfall to a new onshore converter station adjacent to the existing substation at Bramford, Suffolk, which will connect the windfarm to the National Grid.
Construction is scheduled to start in 2017, with generation expected in 2019 and the firms predict that up to 170 engineers and technicians will be required to provide operations and maintenance support for the project once completed.
Industry body RenewableUK's chief executive Maria McCaffery said the wind farm's go-ahead provided a "huge confidence boost" for the whole of the UK's offshore wind sector.
"Our world-beating offshore wind industry is set to more than treble in size by the end of the decade – projects like this will help us to maintain our global lead. It's heartening to see Government backing this part of our industry extremely pro-actively.
“When it comes to recognising the benefits for Britain in terms of investment and jobs in offshore wind, Ministers really do get it, and it's great to have them on board."
She added: "Projects like East Anglia One are vital for our energy security, especially at a time when the level of instability in the Middle East is getting worse.
"Relying on importing fossil fuels looks like an increasingly risky option, so we will need more onshore and offshore wind, and wave and tidal projects, to help us meet our energy needs."
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.