Editor's pick: Offshore turbines allowed due to energy benefits

A development consent order has been given for a 750-megawatt, 207-turbine offshore wind farm off the Cumbrian coat, with the added contribution it would make to renewable energy.generation making a compelling case for approval.

The turbines would have a maximum height to the tip of the vertical blade of 222m. The secretary of state considered that the scheme would be consistent with national policy statements setting out a national need for development of nationally significant electricity infrastructure of the type proposed.

He noted an outstanding objection from the National Air Traffic Service pending agreement of a mitigation measure to protect radar interests. However, he was satisfied that a requirement included in the order meant that if mitigation was not agreed, the development would not be able to proceed.

The Isle of Man government and the island's airport operator were concerned about the scheme's impact on flights to and from Blackpool, since the flight path overlapped a section of the wind farm. The secretary of state noted that a limited amount of traffic used this route and it was likely to be disestablished by the end of this year.

The route of proposed export cables crossing the A683 to reach a substation was also an issue. The county council sought a requirement for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) instead of cable system laying in an open trench. The secretary of state considered this unnecessary, taking into account the limited construction time and traffic delays arising.

In his view, it was not reasonable to require monitoring of the scheme's impact of the development on Nephrops and elasmobrach fish, due to practical problems in such exercises and reservations about whether the proposed surveys would yield robust results. He also considered that the use of HDD would have no significant impact on a colony of belted beauty moths and associated habitat at a saltmarsh.

Lead commissioner: Robert Macey; Examination

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