Offshore wind farm examination period extended due to Covid-19

The deadline for the close of the examination period for Swedish company Vattenfall’s Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm has been pushed back to 12 October as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The postponement was at the request of the Planning Inspectorate to extend the examination period for the development consent order application to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
In particular, several hearings have had to be cancelled in recent weeks, potentially resulting in interested parties not being given a fair opportunity to participate in the examination, according to the Planning Inspectorate.
In addition, a number of interested parties no longer had the capacity to participate in the examination process as a result of Covid-19 resource prioritisation.
However, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy expects the Planning Inspectorate “to make best efforts to complete the examination process as soon as is reasonably practicable within the extended period”.
The inspectorate will publish a new examination process timetable by 19 May.
Greg Peck, county councillor for the Reepham Division, said: “I am pleased that the secretary of state has agreed to an extension of the examination for five months.
“Due to the Covid-19 crisis a number of public meetings and hearings have been cancelled curtailing the input of interested parties.
“Myself, our MP [Jerome Mayhew], affected parish councils and concerned residents, in particular Chris Monk who leads Cawston Parish Council’s response to the cable applications, have all been pushing for this.
“I thank the secretary of state for listening to us. This will ensure that residents will have their concerns fully listened to and considered.
“We now have five more months to convince the inspectors that the applicant needs to provide an acceptable traffic management plan that will avoid thousands of extra HGV movements through the centre of Cawston.”
Norfolk Boreas is a 1.8 GW offshore wind project located next to Vattenfall’s sister project, Norfolk Vanguard. It covers an area of 725 km2 and is located some 72 km off the Norfolk coast at its nearest point.
The project will include up to 180 turbines with a minimum individual capacity of 10 MW, installed on fixed-bottom foundations.
Denmark’s Ørsted also plans to build a large offshore wind farm, Hornsea Project Three, with the onshore cable trenches planned to cross those of the Vattenfall projects just north of Reepham.
Meanwhile, Norwegian company Equinor has announced plans to extend the Dudgeon and Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farms, with a new cable trench east of Cawston.
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