Consent was given today by the Government for the construction of two wind farms off the Norfolk Coast with a combined capacity of over 1GW. This means that 6.6GW of offshore wind power is now either operational, under construction or consented in the UK.
The two wind farms at Race Bank (580MW) and Dudgeon (560MW) in the Greater Wash could generate enough electricity to power around 730,000 homes. The projects represent around £3bn of investment.
An application for a third project at Docking Shoal, also off the Norfolk Coast, has however been refused due to the potential impact on seabirds in the area. These birds (Sandwich terns) are specially protected by environmental legislation.
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, said:
"The UK is racing ahead of the global field and these two new offshore wind farms underline this momentum.
"These two projects will not only bring us considerable amounts of clean energy, but significant investment and jobs too.
"We have also shown that we are mindful of other consequences, such as the impact on bird populations, in deciding that it would not be appropriate to consent all three applications."
Ministers have given consent to Centrica and Warwick Energy for the construction of offshore wind farms at Race Bank and Dudgeon respectively. Ministers refused consent for Centrica's application for an offshore wind farm at Docking Shoal. All decision documentation is available on the DECC Energy infrastructure portal: recent decisions on applications [External link].
The figure of 6.6GW comprises offshore wind farms built, under construction and consented to date. The UK currently has 1.9GW of operational capacity. The UK renewable energy roadmap [External Link] published last year set out that the UK could have up to 18GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.
The Sandwich tern colonies at Blakeney Point and Scolt Head Island fall within the North Norfolk Coast Special Protection Area (SPA), a Natura 2000 site protected under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.
European Commission: The birds directive[External link]
European Commission: The habitats directive[External link]