BEIS gives nod to huge 1.8GW wind farm proposed by Swedish energy company, as it delays approval for Ørsted's Hornsea Three project for the fourth time
Vattenfall has been given the all clear to build the mammoth 1.8GW Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm off the east coast of England.
Planning consent was granted earlier this week by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, following a decision in June to postpone the decision by a month.
The Swedish energy giant intends to install between 90 and 180 turbines across an area of just under 600 square kilometres located 47 kilometres from the Norfolk coast. The project is expected to generate enough power for roughly 1.95 million homes.
Gunnar Groebler, senior vice-president for Vattenfall's wind business, said the firm was delighted to clinch planning consent for the development, which is scheduled to come online in the mid-2020s.
"This decision justifies the confidence that we have in the offshore wind sector in Britain, and we're looking forward to developing the project and benefiting the local community," he said.
"Decarbonising our economies starts with one of the most essential resources - electricity," he added. "Today's news sends a strong signal that the UK is serious about its climate ambitions and is open for business to power a green economic recovery."
Vattenfall had previously questioned the government's plans for the offshore wind sector after suffering a second round of delays to the Norfolk Vanguard project last month.
Norfolk Vanguard's sister project, the proposed 1.8GW Norfolk Boreas farm, has also been stung by significant delays to the government consenting procedure. In May, the Department for Business, Energy, and Idustrial Strategy (BEIS) extended the examination period by five months to October, citing the cancellation of hearings due to the coronavirus.
Danielle Lane, country manager and head of offshore wind for Vattenfall in the UK, urged the government to speed up its approvals process. "It's now vital that other shovel-ready renewable and low-carbon projects are also given the go-ahead as soon as possible," she said. "Delays of even just a month or so can set back big infrastructure developments by years in some cases. The UK has to go much further, much faster, if it's going to reach its net zero targets."
Lane stressed that the offshore wind projects promised to deliver a significant boost to the local economy. "Today is also great news for people living locally, who we've been working with over the last four years to develop this project," she said. "They can look forward to a multi-billion pound economic boost, bringing with it hundreds of new long-term jobs, driving forward a green revolution and helping to level up UK opportunities."
The developer expects Norfolk Vanguard to generate more than 400 jobs in the onshore construction phase and a further 150 jobs once operational, once combined with Norfolk Boreas' workforce.
Hugh McNeal, chief executive at trade body RenewableUK, commended government's decision to approve Norfolk Vanguard and urged it to reach a similar conclusion for Ørsted's 2.4GW Hornsea Three project, which was subjected to further planning delays this week.
"Investments in major clean energy projects like these are great examples of how we can get the economy moving again, and the Secretary of State's announcement will boost our ability to meet the government's 2030 target of 40GW of offshore wind," McNeal said. "The landmark decision on Norfolk Vanguard means the UK is taking a significant step closer towards our net zero emissions target, and confirmation of a positive decision on Hornsea Three will get us there even faster."
In a blow for the Danish energy developer, BEIS extended the deadline for its decision on the 300-turbine Hornsea Three project to 31 December 2020 for the fourth time on Tuesday.
Sharma confirmed, however, that he was "minded to approve" the project, subject to further information being submitted by the Danish energy company by the end of September. The new decision date, BEIS said, would allow time for further consultations with interested parties after the new information was provided.
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