After delays of several months, approval has been given to the Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm by Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, but an even larger wind project has been left waiting.
The ruling comes despite local opposition over the need to dig a 60-km long cable trench from Happisburgh on the coast to Necton near Swaffham to connect the wind farm to the National Grid.
Residents in Cawston are particularly worried about the impact of heavy goods vehicles carrying cables and equipment through the village.
Other concerns raised by protesters include the loss of farmland, and damage to tourism and the environment.
Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard is a 1.8 GW project, which could supply electricity to around 1.3 million households in the UK. The offshore wind farm will comprise 158 wind turbines and located around 50 km off the Norfolk coast.
An application for the Swedish energy company’s Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm is also in the national planning process, although the examination period has been pushed back to 12 October. It will, however, utilise the same cable trench as the Norfolk Vanguard project.
Meanwhile, the Hornsea Project Three wind farm has been held up further, although it seems likely to be approved later this year.
The cables for Ørsted’s wind farm will be in a 55-km trench from Weybourne on the coast to Swardeston, south of Norwich, where it will connect to the National Grid.
If completed, it would have a capacity of 2.4 GW, making it the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, generating energy for two million homes.
Mr Sharma said he was “minded to approve” the project, but has asked the Danish energy company to provide more information before the end of September, such as further details about how it will protect the kittiwake, an endangered gull. He also asked Ørsted to review how it will manage traffic in Cawston.
A new deadline of 31 December has been set for his decision on the Hornsea Project Three application.
The Vattenfall and Ørsted projects together represent more than 10% of the UK’s 2030 goal of installing 40 GW of offshore wind energy. Both projects are scheduled to come online in the mid-2020s.
The underground cable trenches from the wind farms are planned to cross at a field north of Reepham on land belonging to the Salle Park Estate.
Local MPs, including Broadland’s Jerome Mayhew, had called for an offshore ring main to be constructed to connect current and future wind farm projects to the country’s electricity infrastructure.
See our earlier stories:
- Broadland MP backs offshore ring main to connect large wind farms
- Public consultations on plans for offshore wind farm extensions
- Offshore wind farm examination period extended due to Covid-19
- Decision on offshore wind farms now expected in June