Today, 29 April 2021, marks the start of the phase two community consultation and the publication of the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) for the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm Extension Projects (SEP and DEP).
The two projects will double the capacity of the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon offshore wind farms, off the Norfolk coast, providing renewable energy to an additional 820,000 UK homes and making an important contribution to the UK’s decarbonisation goals. The development of SEP and DEP are being brought forward by operator Equinor on behalf of the owners.
With continuing pandemic restrictions prohibiting face-to-face exhibitions and information events, Equinor has developed a range of dedicated communication lines to invite community feedback, and to ensure that all interested parties have access to all the information about the two offshore wind farm extension projects.
Additionally, over 11,000 homes and businesses near to the proposed onshore cable corridor route from Weybourne to the Norwich Main substation have been mailed a community consultation leaflet and feedback form.
During this six-week period of community consultation, 29 April - 10 June 2021, Equinor is seeking feedback on all aspects of its proposals, but in particular relating to:
“We were very pleased with the community response to the phase one consultation which supported further development of our proposals, and would like to thank everyone that took the time to respond. Despite physical restrictions in place, we received a huge amount of engagement and much of that feedback has been incorporated into the refined project plans, which we are now presenting. We look forward to updating the Norfolk communities on how the plans have progressed, continuing to involve and receive their comments on the proposals.
“We are, of course, very disappointed that COVID-19 is still preventing us from holding in-person meetings with the Norfolk community. To support community engagement during this important consultation period, once again, we have various channels of communication open, including a virtual exhibition space, and we will also be holding online community Q&A sessions. I hope these will once again encourage a widespread and meaningful response,” said Kari Hege Mørk, Equinor’s Project Director for SEP and DEP.
SEP and DEP are classified as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) which means Equinor will apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The publication of the PEIR is a key milestone in the DCO pre-application process. It contains the refined plans following last year’s phase one community consultation which took place during July and August 2020, together with the results from the numerous environmental surveys and studies which have been taking place since late 2019. It also includes landscape and seascape visualisations of the proposals.
Equinor and its partners are seeking to minimise potential impacts on the community and the environment by pursuing a shared onshore footprint for the two projects and applying for one common DCO. This is an industry first; two separately owned projects have never made a common DCO application before, and it is hoped this joined-up approach will pave the way for other coordinated projects in the UK. Equinor intends to submit the joint DCO application by the end of 2021.
A summary report will be issued after this phase two community consultation, to explain how the feedback received has been considered in the further development of the projects.