The second of several new offshore wind farm projects, whose cables are planned to cross just north of Reepham, has been approved.
Danish energy company Ørsted has been granted development consent for its Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm to be built 120 kilometres off the north Norfolk coast.
This will involve cables being laid in a 55-km-long trench, from Weybourne on the coast to Swardeston, south of Norwich, to connect the power generated by up to 231 turbines to the National Grid.
The wind farm will have a capacity of 2.4 gigawatts, generating energy for two million homes.
The application was originally lodged in May 2018 and subject to a six-month examination, although there were several delays in the decision-making process.
Development consent was finally granted on 31 December by Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, despite a number of concerns, including the impact of traffic in Cawston during construction.
Natural England also expressed concern about the damage to the Norfolk countryside during construction.
Dozens of parish councils in Norfolk called for the decision to be delayed pending discussions regarding developers joining together to use an offshore ring main, which would eliminate the need for individual substations and cable corridors.
But Mr Sharma decided that the benefits of the scheme, coupled with the mitigation measures put forward, outweighed the harm.
He said that, while the offshore ring main concept was being explored, he had to make a decision based on current policy.
Regarding the additional traffic coming through Cawston during the construction period, he acknowledged that this would be “substantial”, but said mitigation measures would “satisfactorily reduce noise and disturbance for local residents to acceptable levels”.
On Natural England’s concern over damage to the Norfolk countryside during construction, he said it would be “short-term” and minimised by mitigation.
Duncan Clark, head of region UK at Ørsted, said the decision was “the culmination of a thorough and rigorous process which ensures that the project can deliver much needed clean energy at scale for the UK, whilst ensuring the potential environmental impacts of the project are minimised.
“The unique compensation plan for Hornsea Three demonstrates that the industry can continue to deliver on the government’s offshore wind ambition of 40 GW by 2030 in a sensitive and environmentally responsible way.”
Mr Clark said climate change “remains a very serious threat” and that there is “an ever pressing need to act.
He added that, once complete, Hornsea Three would provide clean power to more than two million UK homes and offset over 128 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, making a “significant contribution” to meeting the UK’s net zero targets.
The decision regarding Ørsted’s Hornsea Project Three follows development consent granted last July for Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm, although this is the subject of a judicial review due to be heard early this year.
Vattenfall’s Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm, which will use the same onshore cable route, is also in the national planning process, with a decision expected in April.
See our earlier stories:
- Permission granted for legal challenge to offshore wind farm
- Offshore wind farm gets government approval