A Guide to Offshore Windfarms – Part 2 – Consent

Project management

Introduction

Before purchasing a number of wind turbines and placing orders for the windfarm construction, there are a number of activities that need to be completed. Firstly you need to secure the planning consent. This will require the analysis of the site to define the design and therefore the engineering aspects. An Environmental Impact Assessment is required to look at impact of the project on the environment.

Cost – about £120 million

In Part 1 of this series of posts the type of future offshore windfarms is discussed. This cost is based on a 1GW windfarm

Developers have teams of about up to 50 staff during the development phase. The team would contract out work to specialist environmental, engineering consultancies, data acquisition and analysis companies.

This would broadly fall into the categories of

  • Development and consenting services
  • Environmental surveys
  • Resource and metocean assessment
  • Geological and hydrological surveys
  • Engineering and consultancy
Map of land leased for Rampion Windfarm
Leased land for Rampion Offshore Windfarm

Overview

The Crown Estate manage the around England Northern Ireland and Wales. In 2017 “Crown Estate Scotland” formed  to manage territorial waters around Scotland. Reference to the “Crown Estate” will mean both organisations unless specifically stated otherwise.

Leasing of the Sea Bed for existing offshore wind farms has been managed by The Crown Estate through several leasing rounds that began in 2000. Before the consenting process can begin, a developer must secure a sea bed lease from The Crown Estate.

Planning and Consent

The planning and consent procedure varies slightly depending on where the development is to occur:

Offshore wind projects larger than 100MW in England and Wales are defined as nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP). These are examined by the Planning Inspectorate. The Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) grants or refuses consent based on a recommendation made by the Planning Inspectorate. In England, a Development Consent Order is granted under the Planning Act 2008. This Order incorporates a number of consents, including a marine licence and onshore consents. In Wales the marine licence is determined by Natural Resources Wales.

In Scotland, Marine Scotland examines applications for the offshore works. Scottish Ministers grant or refuse consent under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (up to 12nm from shore) and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 for projects 12-200 nm from shore. A streamlined process incorporates consent under the Electricity Act 1989 in parallel.

In Northern Ireland, the Marine Strategy and Licensing team within the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) manages the consent application and decision making process for offshore wind projects.

Onshore consent including where the transmission cable landfall is awarded by the relevant local planning authority (LPA), except where a project is handled under an NSIP in England and Wales, in which case the onshore consents are considered within the NSIP process.

To find out more about the Rampion Windfarm project, join one of the trips aboard Defiance.