Offshore wind farm decision delayed six months

The decision on a large offshore wind farm has been delayed until March following fears it would harm endangered seabirds.

Image: Ørsted

The government’s Planning Inspectorate was due to decide on 2 October whether or not the Hornsea Project Three wind farm, to be located 120 km off the north Norfolk coast, would be approved.
However, the decision has been put back for six months after Natural England raised fears that the wind farm proposed by Danish energy group Ørsted would harm the populations of kittiwakes, gannets and the lesser black-backed gull that breed on the east coast of England.
If approved, the onshore cable corridor for the new windfarm would pass through the Reepham district from Weybourne on the coast to a new substation at Swardeston, south of Norwich, to connect the wind farm to the National Grid, resulting in up to eight years of construction work.
In a letter to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the wildlife charity Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the breeding populations of all three bird species would be harmed.
Ørsted, in consultation with Natural England, has now been asked to look at alternative solutions that would lessen the impacts on the breeding sites in question or prove the project is in the “overriding public interest”.
The Danish energy firm also has to look at ways to reduce the impact on the North Norfolk Sandbanks, The Wash and two marine conservation zones, including the Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds.
Ørsted has been given until the end of December to respond.
Meanwhile, a decision on Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm, with a cable corridor also passing through the Reepham district, is due on 10 December, while the Swedish state-owned energy company’s Norfolk Boreas project has just started the examination process, with hearings expected this autumn.
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