Consultation starts on offshore wind farm extensions

A community consultation has been launched to seek local views on plans to extend two wind farms off the Norfolk coast.

Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Photo: Jan Arne Wold/Woldcam

Norwegian energy company Equinor operates two wind farms from Norfolk – Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, which have been operating for almost 10 years.
Called the Dudgeon and Sheringham Extension Projects, these new wind farms will be built adjacent to the existing wind farms, bringing the total capacity to 1.44 GW, providing enough renewable energy to power 1.5 million UK homes.
Currently, the combined output of both wind farms is sufficient to power around 750,000 homes.
Cables from the extension projects will come ashore at Weybourne, before being installed in a trench heading south, passing to the east of Cawston, towards a new onshore substation near to the existing National Grid Norwich Main Substation at Swardeston.
In the Reepham district, the cable trench is also planned to pass near Heydon, Brandiston, Swannington, Attlebridge and Weston Longville.
This first phase of community consultation runs until 20 August, and feedback is being sought regarding the location of the site for the onshore substation, the route to be taken by the underground onshore cables and any lessons that can be taken from the earlier construction of both offshore wind farms.
Equinor has published a statement of community consultation, which sets out how the company will be engaging with the local community to ensure they can provide comments and feedback on the plans as they develop.
To keep the conversation going while social distancing remains in place, Equinor has developed a range of options online and via dedicated communications lines to invite community feedback and ensure interested parties have access to all the information.
These include:

  • a consultation website, where interested members of the public are able to provide their comments via an interactive digital engagement platform;
  • a virtual exhibition and interactive online space with more information about the projects and the planning and construction processes;
  • contact with the Norfolk-based projects’ community liaison officer, Nigel Tompkins, who can contacted by email.

Additionally, more than 9,000 properties within 1 km of the proposed onshore cable corridor have been sent a community consultation leaflet and feedback form. The company is also consulting with landowners within the indicative survey area.
“It’s really important to us to hear from the community at this early stage of the project, so that we can consider feedback from the local people as the projects develop,” said Kari Hege Mørk, project manager at Equinor.
“It’s a challenging time to engage as we can’t physically meet in person, but we hope that the materials we have provided, including our virtual exhibition space, will give people enough information to be able to comment on our onshore plans.
“We’ve also got lots of channels of communication open if people have further queries, and we really encourage anyone who has an interest in the project to have a look.”
On completion of this first phase of community consultation, Equinor will compile and publish a report summarising the feedback received and how this is being considered.
Both extension projects are classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, which means Equinor will apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the secretary of state for business energy and industrial strategy.
A second phase of community consultation will be held in spring 2021, when the company will present its refined plans, inviting comments to its preliminary environmental report and providing additional information, including visualisations, of what the projects will look like onshore and from the coast.
Equinor says it intends to submit the DCO application by the end of 2021.
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