UK Gov delays consent deadlines for crucial offshore wind projects

In a recent development, the Planning Inspectorate has announced a significant delay in the consent deadlines for two pivotal UK offshore wind farm extension projects. The decision to extend the deadline for the Sheringham and Dudgeon Extensions Offshore Wind Farm Projects from 17 January to 17 April 2024 poses potential setbacks, creating uncertainty for an estimated 717 MW in capacity allocation.

These projects, spearheaded by Equinor New Energy Limited, were initially slated for decision under the Planning Act 2008 by mid-January. However, due to the need for additional time to review information and conduct essential consultations, the new deadline has been set, pushing it beyond the expected timeline for Applications for Allocation Round 6 (AR6) under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.

The schedule for the AR6 application window, opening on 27 March 2024 and closing on 19 April 2024, now intersects with the adjusted deadline for the offshore wind farm projects. This unforeseen alignment threatens to hinder the seamless application process for these projects, potentially affecting their ability to participate in the AR6 round.

The Sheringham Extension Project, boasting a maximum installed capacity of 317MW, and the Dudgeon Extension Project, with a capacity of 402MW, are pivotal in augmenting the UK’s renewable energy capacity. These projects, crucial for the national grid transmission network at Norwich Main substation, face uncertainty regarding their eligibility and participation in the forthcoming allocation round.

The UK government’s indicative timeline for CfD Allocation Round 6, aimed at supporting low-carbon electricity generation, now faces the looming possibility of these projects being excluded due to the extended consent deadlines.
The delay in these essential projects underscores the challenges faced in aligning regulatory processes with the nation’s ambitious renewable energy targets. The government’s efforts to secure renewable energy projects for meeting the 2030 offshore wind target of 50GW might encounter setbacks due to this unforeseen delay.

The Secretary of State assures that the decision to extend the deadline for these projects remains without prejudice to the final decision on their development consent. However, the overlapping timelines between project decisions and the AR6 application window raise concerns about the projects’ participation and subsequent impact on the UK’s renewable energy ambitions.

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