The Crown Estate (TCE) has confirmed that 2.85GW of new offshore wind capacity, adding to seven existing seven projects, will now progress to the award of rights. A further project has not been taken forward.
The seven extensions are at:
- Sheringham Shoal
- Greater Gabbard
- Gwynt y Môr
The projects take this step forward because TCE has completed plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for the project extension applications, put forward in 2017. The HRA assesses the possible impact of the proposed windfarm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance. In the assessment, TCE consulted with statutory marine planning authorities, statutory nature conservation bodies and a number of non-governmental stakeholders.
The Crown Estate also received an application for extension at Race Bank. It said that the majority of the extension site within the Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and there were potential detrimental effects on it. There is an option for the developer to seek a derogation, but TCE says, “As a first for the offshore wind sector, this would be a significant undertaking, in conjunction with a broad range of stakeholders, and would cause a delay to the award of rights for the seven other proposed extension projects. The Crown Estate has therefore taken the decision not to pursue this route at this time. We will continue to work with the developers of Race Bank extension and with stakeholders, to consider next steps.”
The developers of the seven agreed extensions will undertake project-specific environmental assessments and surveys before seeking planning consent.
To help developers’ consideration of the location of their transmission system infrastructure including export cabling, The Crown Estate has developed a Cable Route Protocol, which has been incorporated into the HRA. As part of the 2017 extensions opportunity,