UK offshore wind plans hit new snag

Plans to build a new generation of offshore wind turbines off the UK coast have suffered a setback after the country’s energy regulator Ofgem refused to approve a request to allow “compulsory rights of entry” for wind farm companies to lay cables across private land.

Ofgem’s decision is being greeted as a victory for landowners.

The situation arose when RWE, which planned to build 288 wind turbines off the Lincolnshire coast, turned to legislation after five landowners refused entry for laying of cables.
Offshore wind turbines
The utility applied for consent, citing what it believed was its right under the Electricity Act of 1989.

Ofgem has now told RWE and the landowners that it is “minded to refuse consent” because the act only grants the right in order to construct and extend a generating station. Laying cables onshore cannot be described as extending the wind turbines, it argued.

The landowners had argued that digging up the ground could permanently affect drainage systems, increasing the risk of flooding. They also feared their fields could be devalued as there would have to be inspection areas every 750 metres (0.5 miles) along the cables.

RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber,told Power Engineering International, “RenewableUK has noted this with interest. Consultations are ongoing – obviously it’s important that developers are able to survey relevant land”.

John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation told UK newspaper The Times: “This important case will give courage to landowners faced with unpopular offshore wind connection schemes, perhaps putting the brakes on the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s ambitions for this technology.”

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