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05/01/2021

Wind farm off Norfolk coast gains approval

Words: Laura Edgar
Offshore wind turbines / iStock_000033111088

Energy secretary Alok Sharma has granted a development consent order for Ortsted Hornsea Project Three, an offshore wind farm comprising up to 231 turbines.

The offshore wind farm will be located in the Southern North Sea. Its generating capacity will be larger than 100MW so it was considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure (NSIP) regime.  

The examining authority – the Planning Inspectorate – had recommended that Sharma should not make an order granting development consent.

The application form states that permission was sought for all associated offshore and onshore infrastructure, including:

  • Up to 300 wind turbines.
  • Up to 12 offshore collector substations.
  • Up to four surface or six subsea offshore HVAS booster stations (or a combination of them).
  • Up to three offshore accommodation platforms.
  • A connection to the National Grid substation south of Norwich.

The secretary of state’s decision letter states that after examination and in response to a request for information from Sharma, Orsted submitted modifications to the wind farm, including a reduction in the number of turbines from a maximum of 300 to a maximum of 231. Sharma did not consider that this or other relevant modifications amounted to “a material change to the development as applied for”.

Sharma determined, in line with the examining authority, that substantial weight should be given to the contribution that the development would make towards meeting the national need set out in the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy and towards delivering renewable energy.

Disagreeing with the examining authority, Sharma concluded that after completing the Habitats Regulations Assessment, the development, “in combination with other plans or projects, would have an adverse effect on the integrity of the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area for kittiwake". Together, they would also give rise to impacts on sandbanks that are slightly covered by seawater all the time.

However, Sharma is satisfied that that the public benefits of the development would “override the impacts” to the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area, the North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef Special Area of Conservation and The Wash and North Norfolk Coast Special Area of Conservation, “if appropriate  compensation is secured”.

Again in disagreement with the examining authority, the secretary of state believes that the offshore wind farm would ”not significantly hinder” the conservation objectives of either the Cromer Shoal Chalk Bed marine conservation zone (MCZ) or Markham's Triangle MCZ.

Taking this into consideration, Sharma decided that the DCO should be granted.

Hornsea One started production in 2020 while Hornsea Two is under construction and due to be operational in 2022.

The decision letter and all other documents relating to the development can be found here on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Image credit | iStock

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