To build and operate an offshore wind farm, offshore wind developers have to apply for, secure and comply with a range of environmental and planning permissions or consents. Planning consents ensure that proposed projects are fully assessed in terms of their potential environmental impact and their impact on local communities, other industries and other relevant stakeholders.
The application for consent for an offshore wind farm can run to many tens of thousands of pages or more. It includes details of the design of the offshore wind farm, an Environmental Impact Assessment report, and evidence that the developer has consulted with relevant stakeholders on the project.
There are many challenges that need to be overcome during the offshore wind consenting process including quantifying the impacts on habitats and species such as seabirds and marine mammals and interactions with other sea users such as commercial fisheries or maritime shipping. Agreeing assessment outcomes or finding solutions where impacts cannot be avoided has resulted in some consent decisions taking over 2 years to be made.
If we cannot find a way to resolve some of the major challenges currently experienced in the consent application and management processes, reduce timescales and increase certainty, the UK may fail to meet its 2030 targets, net zero targets, energy security goals.
Environmental pathways to growth
OWIC have set up a collaborative group – the Pathways to Growth (P2G) Coordination Group - to work together to prioritise and drive forward work to resolve these issues. Together with the P2G Coordination Group, the P2G Team have identified 10 prioritised challenges to focus on. These challenges include:
Providing clear guidance on when and how measures to compensate for environmental impacts must be identified and implemented in cases where impacts cannot be avoided.
Making sure there are sufficient skilled staff in the UK SNCBs and regulatory bodies to support the consent application and management processes.
Ensuring that there is an ongoing process of consistently and continuously analysing data and evidence about environmental impacts, such as those on marine mammals or birds, to support consent decisions.
A full overview of these consenting challenges, and our joint progress towards addressing them, can be found here
Who we are
Rachael Mills, P2G Delivery Lead
Brian McFarlane, Industry Chair, P2G
Kat Route-Stephens, Strategic Compensation Delivery Lead
Benj Sykes, Industry Sponsor
Juliet Shrimpton, P2G Assistant Manager