UK approves 8GW of offshore wind to meet net zero targets

Renewables

United Kingdom – The Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has given the go-ahead for six fixed offshore wind projects with the potential to generate renewable electricity for more than 7 million homes to enter into an Agreement for Lease with The Crown Estate, which will significantly advance plans for the UK to meet its net zero and energy security commitments.

The Crown Estate notified the UK and Welsh Governments of its intention to move forward with the Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 plan on the basis of a “derogation” in April, following the completion of a Habitats Regulations Assessment, an evaluation of the potential impacts on the most important environmental habitats in the UK.

The Welsh Government has not objected to the notice, and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has now given permission for The Crown Estate to move forward with the plan.

The action represents an important turning point in the UK’s response to climate change. The Crown Estate has supported the growth of a world-class offshore wind market since the first leasing round in 2001. Offshore wind power is now the UK’s largest source of renewable electricity. The Crown Estate also revealed plans on July 5 to build floating offshore wind farms rather than fixed ones in the Celtic Sea, which could add up to 4GW of additional capacity.

The agreement reached today may be crucial in supplying sustainable, renewable energy for the UK’s net zero future as the climate emergency worsens and offshore wind demand increases.

Improved strategy

If certain requirements are met, the derogation process permits the advancement of plans or projects while guaranteeing that the identified environmental impacts are fully mitigated by environmental compensatory measures. The use of a derogation for Round 4 reflects the complex challenges that are being faced as the marine environment becomes busier, a challenge that most future offshore wind developments are likely to encounter.

To address these issues and strike a balance between urgently needed offshore renewable development and environmental concerns, The Crown Estate has established a new strategic approach to the Habitats Regulations Assessment.

A thorough environmental assessment is part of the strategy, which is supported by an Expert Working Group made up of pertinent UK statutory marine planning authorities, statutory nature conservation bodies, pertinent non-governmental organizations, and the governments of the UK and Wales.

Two protected habitats could experience significant negative effects, which the Habitats Regulations Assessment could not rule out (the Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation and the Filey and Flamborough Head Special Protection Area). In order to oversee the creation and implementation of strategic environmental compensation plans, The Crown Estate will, for the first time in accordance with the derogation, create a Steering Group for each of these two protected sites, consisting of government and statutory nature conservation bodies and the relevant project developers. The Steering Groups will collaborate with The Crown Estate’s HRA Expert Working Group as projects advance to create comprehensive individual site compensation plans.

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Wim Raaijen
I am a creative publisher, editor in chief, writer, vlogger and moderator with a journalistic and philosophic based view. Trying to re-invent the concept of publishing, based on platforms and partners, instead of separated media and advertisements. I am interested in industrial subjects like transition, sustainability, safety, energy efficiency, innovation and responsibility.