240-turbine North Sea offshore wind farm wins secretary of state approval

The secretary of state for energy and climate change has granted consent for a North Sea wind farm of up to 240 turbines despite concluding that the scheme would have some impact on bird populations.

Energy secretary Ed Davey
Energy secretary Ed Davey

The plans for the Hornsea One Offshore Wind Farm include two alternative proposals, with either two 600MW offshore wind farms or three 400MW schemes.

The application was made in this way to allow flexibility, according to developer SMart Wind, and the secretary of state decided this approach was legally acceptable.

The schemes would have the same maximum potential environmental impact and geographical extent, with up to 240 wind turbines.

A decision letter said that the secretary of state received a representation "alleging that the project would affect the safe operation of an airfield" from its operator.

He noted that the Civil Aviation Authority had not objected but considered that "given the magnitude of the potential risk" the order should include a requirement "to submit a plan for the safe operation of the airfield".

He also noted that the project has the potential to affect wildlife habits around Europe and could result in an increase in mortality rates of species of gulls, but concluded that there would not be any long term impact.

The application was recommended for approval by a panel of examiners in September.

According to the Planning Inspectorate, the wind farm is the 30th Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project to be decided under the Planning Act 2008 regime and is the 11th wind farm application examined by the Planning Inspectorate to gain development consent.

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