Offshore windfarm plans blocked

The High Court has overturned development consent for the Vanguard Offshore Windfarm. The planned cabling for the windfarm affects a corner of Mundesley division but the future of energy supply affects us all.

The energy company Vattenfall has issued the following statement:

Vattenfall’s Norfolk Offshore Wind Farm Projects

Following an Order of the High Court made on 18 February 2021, the decision of the Secretary of State dated 1 July 2020 to grant the application by Norfolk Vanguard Limited for development consent for the proposed Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm has been quashed. The Secretary of State is considering the judgment and will decide on the next steps in due course.

This is a very disappointing outcome for us. However, the ruling relates to the process for granting consent and not to the merits of Vattenfall’s world-class Norfolk Vanguard project.

Vattenfall’s Norfolk project team are assessing the implications of the decision on the project programme. Our scenario planning indicates that there are realistic pathways to Norfolk Vanguard achieving its DCO by Autumn 2021. No delay to the expected Norfolk Boreas decision date has been announced at this stage. We acknowledge alternative pathways and outcomes are also possible.

However, working on the basis that the Secretary of State will be considering the most appropriate, fair and efficient way to enable re-determination, our concerted efforts continue to focus on maintaining the project programme, preparing to be bid-ready for AR4 (later this year) and to work with stakeholders to deliver the local opportunities that can stem from the project for local communities, including the local supply chain.

Over the coming weeks and months, we shall be:

· Continuing to undertake important ecological surveys – with a significant part of this work undertaken by Norfolk Wildlife Services – to enable efficient discharge of planning conditions, when appropriate. Voluntary agreements signed with the vast majority of landowners along the cable corridor enable this (rather than reliance on powers granted by a DCO).

· Continuing with archaeological trial trenching, and procuring and initiating multi-million pound contracts for set piece excavations. As above, this is enabled through voluntary agreements with relevant land interests.

· Continuing procurement processes to identify contractors, including those required to undertake the onshore enabling works – these contracts present very real opportunities to local companies, both as primary suppliers and secondary contractors. The supply chain engagement undertaken since 2018 means many local companies, large and small are geared-up to bid successfully for very wide range of work packages.

· Progressing our Supply Chain Plan and Skills and Employment Plan.

· Initiating broad outreach to encourage participation in a dialogue that will shape the Norfolk Vanguard (and Norfolk Boreas) Community Benefit Fund.

We have received messages of support from numerous local quarters, all of which are very encouraging and provide further motivation to our team. These projects are central to national and regional strategies, and currently can still be on track to begin generating low cost, renewable electricity by the late 2020s.

We would like to express our gratitude to our co-professionals within the Local Planning Authorities and Norfolk County Council who along with other statutory bodies have worked in parallel with our team over several years to ensure the planning process is robust. Alongside community members, and acting on their behalf, you have challenged and guided the projects appropriately and fairly to address constraints, and deliver opportunities for project improvements. We appreciate your on-going work that will, without prejudice to the planning outcome, enable our local investments to maintain momentum and eventually, we hope, contribute to a timely green recovery (from Covid-effects) in Norfolk and East Anglia.