A development consent order granted for Vattenfall’s 1.8-GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm has been overturned in the UK High Court
The development consent order was granted by the then UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma in July 2020.
However, following an Order of the High Court made on 18 February 2021, the decision of the Secretary of State to grant the application by Norfolk Vanguard Limited for development consent for the windfarm has been quashed.
The decision by the High Court means that the Secretary of State must now re-determine the application.
The project finally secured a consent order after an extensive consultation and engagement with stakeholders, local communities and the supply chain.
Vattenfall submitted an application for a development consent order in June 2018. The examination phase began in December 2018, concluded in June 2019, and the order was then granted by the Secretary of State.
Speaking at the time that the consent order was granted, Vattenfall country manager and head of offshore wind UK Danielle Lane described it as “a great step forward in the battle against climate change, to increase jobs and skills in the east of England, and for the offshore wind industry as a whole.”
Responding to the High Court ruling, she said, "This is a very disappointing outcome, but it relates to the process for granting consent and is not about the merits of our world-class Norfolk Vanguard project.
“Planning consent was awarded after Vattenfall fulfilled all the requirements placed on developers. It is vital that the government now acts to redetermine consent, with regard to the judge’s ruling, as quickly as possible. That way we can continue to invest in the region and remain on track to begin generating low-cost, renewable electricity by the late 2020s.
“With the expansion in offshore wind that is required for the UK to reach net zero by 2050, the planning process needs to be able to address and resolve issues much sooner and avoid the uncertainty about whether projects will proceed even after they have planning approval.”
Also commenting on the High Court ruling, RenewableUK deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said, "If the UK is serious about achieving the Prime Minister’s target of 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030, we need major projects like Norfolk Vanguard to go ahead as swiftly as possible. Developing new offshore wind projects will bring billions in new investment to the UK and create tens of thousands of high-quality jobs after the pandemic.
"We hope the Government will examine today’s judgement carefully and respond in a way that supports meaningful action against the most dangerous threat to our planet - climate change. This is especially important in the year when we are hosting COP26, as new projects are vital to maintain the UK’s global lead in offshore wind."
A decision on another Vattenfall project in the North Sea, Norfolk Boreas, is also due shortly. The company submitted an application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate in June 2019. The inspectorate formally accepted the application, and what would normally have been a six-month examination process began in Q3 2019. Scheduled for Q2 2020, the last hearings were postponed as Covid-19 led to widespread public health restrictions.
The examination period for Norfolk Boreas eventually closed five months later than expected, on 12 October 2020. The examining authority is now reviewing all the evidence and is due to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State. Vattenfall has said it expects the Minister’s decision in April 2021.