Plans to double the capacity of two Norfolk wind farms have been set back six months so that its developer can further investigate their impact on seabirds.
Equinor, the Norwegian firm behind the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms off Cromer and Sheringham, has said it would not apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) until early summer next year instead of by the end of 2021, as originally planned.
Kari-Hege Mørk, project director, said: “Throughout the development of the wind farms we have presented technical and environmental information as plans have been refined, and been in close dialogue with key stakeholders such as statutory nature conservation bodies, as well as the local community and interested parties.
“We have taken the decision to carry out additional analysis on seabird species and further develop proposals, in case environmental mitigation and ornithology compensatory measures are required in accordance with BEIS’ [Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] new requirements.”
The windfarms can currently power around 750,000 UK homes, and the proposed extensions will boost that to more than 1.5 million.
During community consultations held so far concerns have been raised over traffic, ecology, visual impact and noise pollution generated by the planned expansion.
The wind farms would connect to the National Grid south of Norwich at Swardeston. This would involve digging a 60km-long trench which will lead to years of construction work and harm the environment, according to Equinor’s own ‘scoping report’.
The issue most concerning residents was traffic and access during construction, with people worried about the impact on key roads such as Chapel Street in Cawston and the A148 near Bodham.
Ms Mørk added: “We are confident that this extra time will allow us to take into account the thorough feedback on our proposals.
“It also allows us more time to engage with the local community and now that restrictions have lifted, we intend to use the time to visit communities in person.”
Because the planned expansions are classed as nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs), Equinor has to apply to Kwasi Kwarteng – the secretary of state for business energy and industrial strategy – for the DCO.
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