Vattenfall’s 1800MW Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm off the coast of east England has received development consent from BEIS.
Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision allows for the construction, operation, and maintenance of up to 158 Siemens Gamesa turbines off the coast of Norfolk, about 47 kilometres away.
Kwarteng stated in his approval decision letter that consent should be granted due to the project’s “national need.”
The letter went on to say that “Secretary of State has considered all the merits and disbenefits of the development…and concluded that, on balance, the substantial benefits…outweigh its negative impacts”.
The decision went against the examining authority’s recommendation “that cumulative impacts on certain seabird species weigh against development consent being granted”.
The 592-square-kilometer area will be adjacent to the 1.8-gigawatt Norfolk Boreas sister project, which received Energy Minister approval in December of last year.
The High Court invalidated the first approval for Vanguard in February, ruling that former UK energy secretary Alok Sharma had failed to assess the cumulative impacts of a shared onshore substation when issuing his approval.
Danielle Lane, Vattenfall UK country manager, commented after today’s decision: “Today is a major step forward for a project that will help to unlock the huge potential of offshore wind for the UK. We’re committed to making sure that these projects bring real, lasting benefit to the East of England – with jobs, supply chain and skills investment throughout construction and operation.
“We’ll be working even more closely now with local communities as we begin to take the project towards construction. This will include preparatory works on the ground, but also work with our local partners to make sure we get our plans absolutely right to maximise benefits to the region.”
Following the court ruling, Kwarteng stated that he will pursue a formal representations process to re-determine Vanguard’s permission.
For both Vanguard and Boreas, Vattenfall was required to give updated information on the cumulative consequences of the co-located substations, as well as further details on wildlife compensating measures along the east coast of England.
Natural England and the RSPB, a bird conservation charity, contended that the Swedish developer’s amended mitigation plans were still not practicable or deliverable within a reasonable timeframe.
The law firm Thrings, which represents Ray Pearce, the Vanguard’s legal challenge winner, has also requested for the creation of an independent design review panel to address the onshore substation’s in-combination implications in Necton.
RenewableUK (R-UK), a trade group, claims that the decision will assist the UK’s economy significantly.
Dan McGrail, R-chief UK’s executive, said:
“Building this major project will generate enormous economic benefits for East Anglia, creating high-quality jobs in our world-class offshore wind industry and the wider supply chain nationwide.
“To help the UK to reach net zero emissions as fast as possible, the government has set the industry a target of nearly quadrupling our current offshore wind capacity to 40GW by the end of this decade.
“Giving the go-ahead to a major project like Norfolk Vanguard is a big boost to help us to get there. It also demonstrates to the rest of the world that the UK is committed to taking significant practical action against climate change