Equinor progresses plans for offshore wind farm extensions


Equinor is preparing to begin its public consultations with Norfolk communities on its proposed wind farm Extension Projects, planned to be built adjacent to Equinor’s existing offshore wind farms off the North Norfolk coast.

The company has operated out of Norfolk for close to a decade and currently employs over 100 people in the region.  Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farms provide renewable electricity for 750,000 UK homes; the two proposed Extensions Projects would increase capacity to provide electricity for over one and a half million homes across the UK.  These projects will play a major role in meeting legislated UK targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Both proposed wind farms are classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), which means Equinor will apply for a Development Consent Order from the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.
As part of the planning application process, the company will publish a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) in summer 2020.  The document will set out how it will engage with the local community to ensure that they can provide comments and feedback on the plans as they develop.  Equinor is also working with local councils to ensure that the draft proposal takes their considerations into account.

The SoCC will detail the timeline for consultations, and how and where people can find information and contact the company.  In light of the current restrictions to public gatherings owing to COVID-19 Government guidance, the company is taking extra care to ensure that all interested parties will have access to all the information.

The projects have considered two alternative landfall locations for where the offshore export cables will come ashore, Weybourne and Bacton. Supported by technical and environmental analysis Weybourne has been selected as the landfall point.

“The decision about the landfall point has been made on a balance of considerations including technical feasibility and ensuring minimum harm to the environment,” said Kari Hege Mørk, project leader at Equinor.  

“We recognise that the community of Weybourne has been affected by the construction of previous offshore wind farms, and we want to work with the local Parish Council, residents and landowners to develop the plans in the most environmentally responsible and considerate way.  

“Through our consultation process we will be encouraging local people to help inform our site selection process for the location of the onshore substation area and refinement of the onshore cable route. We have been operating out of Norfolk for around a decade, and we will continue to be a good neighbour in the communities where we work.”

Equinor is intending to increase the area within the project search boundary (the Scoping Area) in several locations along the onshore cable corridor. The scoping boundary was published in October 2019 in the company’s Scoping Report. The changes are needed in order for the company to consider alternative cable route options where there are other infrastructure projects and environmental sensitivities.

“As the projects develop, we will work with local councils, stakeholders and the communities in affected areas,” continued Kari Hege Mørk.

“It is extremely important to us that the plans for these projects are well-informed and take all available information into account.  We look forward to engaging with the community when the consultation starts this summer and maintaining channels of open dialogue.”