Crown begins study to unlock beefed-up extensions

The Crown Estate is taking steps to enable the generation of up to an additional 4GW of electricity from several offshore wind farm projects in development, within the timeframe of the 50GW 2030 target.

This follows requests from the developers of seven sites who said additional capacity can be generated from the areas of the seabed they hold existing rights for.

The projects under consideration are Awel y Môr, Dudgeon Extension, Sheringham Shoal Extension, North Falls, Five Estuaries, Rampion 2 and Dogger Bank D.

The process announced supports the Crown Estate’s ambition to use its position as manager of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland to “catalyse the UK’s energy transition, restore a thriving marine environment and support growth for communities, industry and the country”.

The move recognises since awarding seabed rights to these projects, offshore wind technology has improved, enabling more clean energy to be generated from the same seabed area.

In considering the requests, The Crown Estate will balance the economic and clean energy potential of these projects with its commitments to nature and biodiversity and duty to make the most effective and efficient use of a valuable, but increasingly busy, seabed.

Any decision taken will be subject to a ‘Plan-Level Habitats Regulations Assessment’ (HRA) to understand the collective environmental impact of the additional capacity across all seven projects.

This will include consultation with relevant stakeholders, including Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) and regulators.

Marine managing director at The Crown Estate Gus Jaspert said: “As demands on the seabed intensify, we’re taking a more strategic, holistic and data-led approach than ever before to ensure we make the most of this vital resource and that each area of the seabed we lease is working as hard as it can to contribute to the needs of our country and nature.

“These proposed capacity increases make use of seabed areas that have been previously granted rights, are not being fully utilised, and may have limited options for alternative uses.

“We are therefore pleased to launch a process to examine whether this additional capacity can be made available in a way which remains true to our commitment to nature and biodiversity.”

RenewableUK chief executive Dan McGrail said: “Maximising the amount of offshore wind capacity we can install in areas where leasing agreements are already in place is vital to get us closer to the government’s target of 50GW by 2030.”

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