Seven offshore wind extension projects in the UK will progress to the award of seabed rights by the Crown Estate after the group completed a plan-level habitats regulations assessment (HRA).
The expansion will add 2.85GW to the UK’s windfarm capacity, offering an opportunity to unlock an almost 10% increase in the country’s offshore wind portfolio. The Crown Estate launched the scheme in February 2017, which allowed an opportunity to the owners of the existing windfarms to apply for project extensions.
The opportunity closed in May 2018, with The Crown Estate receiving applications for the expansion of the eight project applications.
As part of the assessment, The Crown Estate consulted the statutory marine planning authorities as well as statutory nature conservation bodies and non-governmental stakeholders.
The Crown Estate was also supported by a team of expert independent advisors during the assessment process. The seven offshore windfarms approved for extension include Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon and Thanet.
Additionally, the Crown Estate also received an application from Ørsted for the expansion of the Race Bank project as part of the 2017 extensions round.
However, Ørsted’s application was turned down after identifying that the majority of the proposed extension was located within the Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation.
The developers of the seven windfarms are required to carry out environmental assessments and surveys to seek planning consent through the statutory planning process. The Crown Estate has developed a cable route protocol, to help developers establish a transmission system infrastructure including export cabling.
The Crown Estate energy development head Will Apps said: “In today’s increasingly busy sea-space, a collaborative approach will become all the more crucial, ensuring that the continued ambitious growth of offshore wind happens in balance with the wide range of other interests offshore.
“We’ll continue to work closely with customers, stakeholders and Government to address spatial challenges, in support of the responsible, future deployment of UK offshore wind.”