On 2 June 2020, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma rejected an application for a development consent order submitted by Vattenfall to extend the Thanet offshore windfarm.
Writing to Vattenfall on behalf of the Secretary of State, BEIS head of energy infrastructure planning Gareth Leigh said the order applied for by Vattenfall for a 340-MW extension to the existing windfarm, which is adjacent to the entrance to the Thames estuary in Kent, would not be granted for a number of reasons, the primary one being concerns about vessel navigation.
The reasons cited by the letter included concerns about vessel navigation if the windfarm was extended and the effect of the extension on the ability to conduct pilot transfers. Concerns were also expressed about environmental effects.
In the letter, BEIS said, “The key policy to this application is… that the Secretary of State should not consent applications which pose unacceptable risks to navigational safety after all possible mitigation measures have been considered. The conclusion is… that the applicant failed to demonstrate sufficient mitigation of risks to safety of navigation to make them as low as reasonably practicable.”
BEIS said the impact of the proposed development on marine navigation, shipping and ports was the principal issue generating most attention and contention from interested parties and other parties throughout the examination.
Commenting on the decision, Vattenfall UK country manager Danielle Lane said, “Naturally we’re very disappointed by this decision and will consider how we proceed from here.
"We continue to believe that Thanet Extension would be an important development for the local area, for UK energy security, and for the drive to reduce emissions.”
RenewableUK chief executive Hugh McNeal said, "The UK urgently needs new generating capacity to replace old power stations which are going offline and to reach net zero emissions.
"The government has set a target of quadrupling offshore wind capacity to 40 GW by 2030 and if that’s to be achieved we need new projects to progress.
“Offshore wind is regenerating coastal communities by providing billions of pounds of new investment and boosting employment, so it’s unfortunate that Kent won’t be able to benefit from those opportunities as a result of this decision."