12 July, 2023
The Guardian, by Jillian Ambrose
One of the UK’s largest planned offshore windfarms will move ahead after the government gave the green light to a giant project off the Yorkshire coast after a five-month delay.
The fourth phase of the Hornsea windfarm development is expected to include 180 giant turbines, capable of generating the equivalent of enough green electricity to power 1m homes.
The 2.6GW North Sea project is the second-largest windfarm to receive government consent, following the Hornsea Three project which is being developed and will have a capacity of just over 2.8GW. The first two phases of the Hornsea development, which are operational, have a capacity of 1.2GW and 1.3GW respectively.
Grant Shapps, the energy secretary, approved the project on Wednesday after the UK’s planning authority handed the decision to the government earlier this year. The delay has reignited calls within the energy industry to overhaul the planning system to make it quicker for offshore windfarms to move ahead.
Shapps said that although the project would have some impact on the environment, these would be outweighed by “the urgent need for low-carbon energy infrastructure”.
The developer behind the Hornsea development, Danish wind power giant Ørsted , said the government’s consent marked “the culmination of a rigorous process which ensures that the project can deliver” clean energy for the UK.
A spokesperson said the company would review the full development consent order before moving the project forward “sensitively and sustainably”.
“Offshore wind projects such as Hornsea Four are key to the UK’s energy security and will bring billions of pounds of investment into the UK, provide low-cost electricity for consumers and thousands of high-quality jobs,” they added.
Sam Richards, the founder and campaign director for Britain Remade, a group campaigning for economic growth in Britain, said the government had “finally seen sense”.
“If we want to be energy secure, if we want to slash energy bills and if we want to drive growth and create jobs, we have to speed up the time it takes to get major clean energy projects, like Hornsea Four, up and running,” he said.
“It is frankly ridiculous that it can take up to 13 years for an offshore windfarm to go from idea to generating power, when actually building the thing takes two years at most. Britain can be a clean energy superpower, but to achieve this we need to rapidly fix our broken planning system,” Richards added.
Ana Musat, a director at RenewableUK, said the windfarm would “strengthen Britain’s energy security significantly, helping us to move away from the volatility of international gas prices and closer towards energy independence” while helping the UK meet its legally binding climate targets.