UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma has granted a development consent order for the 1.8-GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm in the North Sea, but is seeking further information from Ørsted and interested parties before awarding planning permission for the 2.4-GW Hornsea Project Three project
The Secretary of State said he was ‘minded to approve’ the application for Hornsea Project Three, subject to further information being submitted on a number of specific issues.
To allow time for Ørsted to submit further information by 30 September 2020 and to allow for consultation on the further information with interested parties, the Secretary of State has set a new deadline of 31 December 2020 for his decision on this application.
The Secretary of State has asked the Planning Inspectorate to facilitate the consultation process via the project page of the National Infrastructure Planning website.
Responding to the decision, an Ørsted spokesperson said, "We are pleased that the Secretary of State is minded to grant consent and recognises the contribution the project would make towards the national need for renewable energy.
"We are now reviewing the full detail of his comments and, while disappointed at the further delay, are confident of providing the evidence requested to ensure that consent will be granted later this year.
"We will continue to work closely with stakeholders and local communities as we look to take the project forward sensitively and sustainably.
"Climate change is a defining challenge of our time and there is an ever pressing need to act. Hornsea Three is a major infrastructure project which responds directly to the urgent need for low-carbon generation at scale in the UK and can contribute to a green economic recovery.
"Once complete, the project will be capable of providing clean electricity to more than 2M UK households, offsetting over 128M tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. We would like to thank everyone involved in the project to date and for all the feedback and comments we have received that have helped shape our proposals."
Commenting on the decision to award planning consent for Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm, Vattenfall senior vice president wind business Gunnar Groebler said, “We are delighted to receive planning consent for Norfolk Vanguard. This decision justifies the confidence that we have in the offshore wind sector in Britain and we are looking forward to developing the project and benefiting the local community. Today’s news sends a strong signal that the UK is serious about its climate ambitions and is open for business to power a green economic recovery.”
Vattenfall country manager and head of offshore wind UK Danielle Lane said, “This is 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.
“The Norfolk Vanguard windfarm will generate 1.8 GW of clean electricity when built. That is enough to power almost 2M homes each year while saving over 3M tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – the same as taking approximately 1.6M cars off the road.
“Today is also great news for people living locally, who we have been working with over the last four years to develop this project. They can look forward to a multi-billion pound economic boost, bringing with it hundreds of new long-term jobs, driving forward a green revolution and helping to level up UK opportunities.
“It is vital that other shovel-ready renewable and low-carbon projects are also given the go-ahead as soon as possible. Delays of even just a month or so can set back big infrastructure developments by years in some cases. The UK has to go much further, much faster, if it is going to reach its net-zero targets.”
In a letter to Ørsted, the head of energy infrastructure planning Gareth Leigh highlighted potential effects of the development of the offshore windfarm on birds such as kittiwakes and on certain special areas of conservation, and raised doubts about compensation measures that were proposed and whether those measures would ‘ensure overall coherence of Natura 2000 sites for kittiwakes.’
“The Secretary of State requests that the applicant provide a detailed compensation plan which gives confidence that any compensatory measures proposed will be sufficient to offset the impact to the kittiwake feature of the Flamborough and Filey Coast special protection area (SPA) and thereby maintain the coherence of the network of SPAs designated, at least in part, for kittiwake,” the letter said.
As highlighted here by OWJ, the effects on bird life of the development and the cumulative effects of a number of offshore wind projects in the North Sea have raised concerns at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other nature bodies.
A decision on planning for another huge offshore windfarm in the North Sea, Vattenfall’s 1.8-GW Norfolk Boreas project, is due to be announced in October 2020.