Centrica has criticised conflicting Government policies after ministers blocked plans for a wind farm to power 400,000 homes because of concerns about seabirds.
The energy giant had applied to build two giant wind farms off the coast of north Norfolk.
However, while it was given consent to proceed with its Race Bank wind farm, which will generate up to 580MW, plans for another 540MW farm called Docking Shoal were rejected because it would kill too many Sandwich terns, a protected species of bird.
Centrica called the decision “regrettable” and said it had “already incurred considerable costs” on the project.
It suggested ministers had dragged their feet in deciding, pointing out that it had been “awaiting planning consent for more than three and a half years”. The Government wants companies to invest £110bn in new power generation over the next decade to help meet environmental goals and to keep the lights on.
Centrica warned: “It is essential that the UK maintains an efficient planning process without undue constraints on development if stretching renewable energy targets are to be met.”
Ministers said the decisions to approve Race Bank – as well as the nearby Dudgeon wind farm, to be built by Warwick Energy – would together represent about £3bn of investment.
The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, deemed that a total annual death toll of 94 Sandwich terns killed by wind farms in the area was “acceptable”, although environmental groups said it should be lower.
The farms approved on Friday could kill 71 a year, while other projects already approved or being considered will take the tally to 93, impact assessments show.
Docking Shoal, the closest to where the birds breed and forage, would have killed “significantly more breeding sandwich terns per turbine” than other proposals, at an estimated 76 birds a year.
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