Vattenfall responds to Norfolk Vanguard consent delay


The following extract comes from a letter Ruari Lean, Project Manager of the Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm Project, issued in response to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy’s decision to delay the Development Consent Order decision for Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm until 1 July 2020.

"I am writing to let you know the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has decided to give himself another month in which to decide whether to award Vattenfall a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm, and he will announce his decision by 1 July 2020.

The reason for the delay is not made explicit in the notice on the Planning Inspectorate website, however whilst the delay is disappointing, Vattenfall appreciates the pandemic has placed a huge strain on Government, and attention is necessarily focused elsewhere. We hope a decision can be made as soon as possible within the extended period.

The delay represents an unwelcome set-back. Having worked with so many stakeholders, residents, and supply chain colleagues over the last five years to help shape our proposals, we know many will share in our disappointment. However, we continue to progress the project outside of the planning process, and to make investments proportionate to the level of uncertainty we are currently experiencing. I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of those.

• We continue to work with Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Ports through Peel Ports & ABP, to find the best solution to support our Norfolk projects going forward. The Tender for Wind Turbine Generators has been launched today and the outcome will help to shape our decisions around ports and logistics.

• The scopes of work for the onshore duct installation, drilling and trenchless crossings, site enabling works, and material supply – more than twenty in all – will be released to inform discussions with the local supply chain during the summer.

• We are ready to start with additional offshore surveys and have already mobilised some onshore survey team - contracts collectively worth millions of pounds – to ensure we are prepared to comply with planning conditions.

• We continue to work on developing skills and employment opportunities for local people, for the construction phase and longer term, for the 25+ years of operation – not just for future Vattenfall colleagues involved with Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, but also in partnership with the sector and supply chain. For example, we are contributing to career transition programmes through the Armed Forces Covenant with colleagues from Norfolk County Council, Ministry of Defence, Department for Work and Pensions, New Anglia LEP, East of England Energy Group and others.

• We continue to invest in Apprenticeships – and have enabled a scheme to share companies’ unallocated Levy among others within the potential regional supply chain. Our work with local schools and colleagues has continued throughout the lock-down. Currently, we are supporting a group of young people from the University Technical College Norfolk to adapt our 3D VR offshore wind development programme, to become a remote learning tool. It will be rolled out to other schools and colleagues across East Anglia from September. We will support summer internships through the Ogden Trust programme again this year.

• Our skills and employment plans will consolidate and make our programmes sustainable, developing the skills and talent of the future project workforce, and setting out where the next investment will be focused. Finally, I’m aware of the continuing local interest in longer-term and far-reaching changes to the way new generation should connect to the national grid.

Vattenfall is fully engaging in these industry discussions, including through our membership of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, with our Regulator Ofgem, and with National Grid, the network operator. Our hope and expectation is that as we transition over time to a more electrified energy system, anticipatory investments and evolving regulatory frameworks will support a move away from single purpose infrastructure and point to point connections. In the meantime we have maximised the use of shared infrastructure between our Norfolk projects as far as we are able under the current framework.

In order to reach this Government’s target of securing 40GW installed capacity of offshore wind in UK seas by 2030, and beyond that, net zero by 2050, then major projects, which take years to plan and build – must be an urgent priority. Larger projects such as Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, if they proceed to construction and operation, will make a significant contribution to a green, postCovid-19 recovery. They will provide the confidence and critical mass, and the wider sector and supply chain needs, to make major investments and drive up productivity.

Norfolk Vanguard is one of the most innovative offshore wind farm projects in the world, and we look forward to a positive decision from the Secretary of State shortly. I will write again to share any further updates, and in the meantime thank you for your continuing interest and support."