Consulatation starts on wind farm plans

A community consultation has been launched to seek local views on plans to extend two wind farms off the Norfolk coast which would provide power for 1.5 million homes.

Equinor operates two local wind farms, Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, about 12 miles off the coast at Sheringham, and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, 20 miles off the coast at Cromer, which have been part of the community for almost 10 years.

Called the Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects (the “Extension Projects”), these new wind farms will be built adjacent to the existing farms, bringing the total capacity up to 1.44GW – 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 towards a new onshore substation near to the existing National Grid Norwich Main Substation.

This first phase of community consultation runs until August 20, and in particular 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 the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore wind farms.

The Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm. A consultation has begun over plans to etend it, along with the nearby Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Photo: Equinor website

Equinor has published a statement of community consultation (SoCC) which sets out how the company will be engaging with the local Norfolk community to ensure that they can provide comments and feedback on the plans as they develop.

To keep the conversation going whilst social distancing remains in place, Equinor has developed a range of options online and via dedicated communications lines to invite community feedback and ensure that all interested parties have access to all the information.

These include:

a consultation website – https://sepanddep.commonplace.is – where interested members of the public are able to provide their comments via an interactive digital engagement platform;

a virtual exhibition – https://event.sepanddep.co.uk – and interactive online space with more information about the projects and the planning and construction processes;

contact with the projects’ community liaison Officer, Nigel Tompkins, who is based in Norfolk and can be emailed at nigel@ni4b.co.uk.

Additionally, more than 9,000 properties within 1km of the proposed onshore cable corridor – from Weybourne to the Norwich main substation, south of Norwich – 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”, says 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 (NSIPs) which means Equinor will apply for a Development Consent Order 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 be presenting its refined plans, inviting comments to its preliminary environmental report (PEIR) and providing additional information what the projects will look like onshore and from the coast.

Equinor intends to submit the Development Consent Order application by the end of 2021.

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