Equinor is preparing to begin its public consultations with Norfolk communities on its proposed wind farm extension projects planned to be built adjacent to the company’s existing offshore wind farms off the North Norfolk coast.
The existing Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon offshore wind farms provide renewable electricity for 750,000 UK homes, Equinor said. The Sheringham Shoal Extension and the Dudgeon Extension would increase the capacity to provide electricity for over one and a half million homes across the UK.
Equinor is developing the two extensions as one project with an integrated grid option.
Sheringham Shoal Extension and Dudgeon Extension are two out of seven UK extension projects approved by the Crown Estate.
Both proposed wind farms 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.
As part of the planning application process, the company will publish a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) in summer 2020. The document will set out how it will engage with the local community to ensure that they can provide comments and feedback on the plans as they develop. Equinor is also working with local councils to ensure that the draft proposal takes their considerations into account.
The SoCC will detail the timeline for consultations, and how and where people can find information and contact the company. In light of the current restrictions to public gatherings owing to COVID-19 Government guidance, the company is taking extra care to ensure that all interested parties will have access to all the information.
The projects have considered two alternative landfall locations for where the offshore export cables will come ashore, Weybourne and Bacton. Supported by technical and environmental analysis Weybourne has been selected as the landfall point.
“The decision about the landfall point has been made on a balance of considerations including technical feasibility and ensuring minimum harm to the environment,” said Kari Hege Mørk, project leader at Equinor.
“We recognise that the community of Weybourne has been affected by the construction of previous offshore wind farms, and we want to work with the local Parish Council, residents and landowners to develop the plans in the most environmentally responsible and considerate way.”
Equinor plans to engage local communities to help inform the site selection process for the onshore substation area and refinement of the onshore cable route.
Equinor is also intending to increase the area within the project search boundary in several locations along the onshore cable corridor. The scoping boundary was published in October 2019 in the company’s Scoping Report. The changes are needed in order for the company to consider alternative cable route options where there are other infrastructure projects and environmental sensitivities, the developer said.
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