BEIS approves 8GW of R4 offshore wind leases

28 07 2022 | 20:54

The UK Government has given the go-ahead for six fixed-foundation offshore wind projects totalling 8GW to enter Agreement's for Lease with the Crown Estate.

In April, following the completion of a Habitats Regulations Assessment – an assessment of the potential impacts on the most valuable environmental habitats in the UK – the Crown Estate gave notice to the UK and Welsh Governments of its intent to proceed with the Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 plan on the basis of a “derogation”.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now provided agreement that the Crown Estate can proceed with the plan, and the Welsh Government has not raised any objections to the notice.

The six projects include BP and EnBW's 3GW Morgan and Mona complex in the Irish Sea and RWE Renewables' 3GW site off the east coast. Developers secured the leases in last year's Round 4 auction.

Dan Labbad, chief executive of the Crown Estate, said: “Today is a pivotal moment on the UK’s journey towards net zero, strengthening the potential pipeline of future offshore wind projects and building vital resilience in domestic renewable energy supply.

“It is the result of a tremendous collective effort from industry, environmental and conservation stakeholders, governments, and technical experts who have helped shape a rigorous and evidence-led outcome.

“In convening this broad range of stakeholders, we have been able to take a more informed and strategic approach to environmental compensation than ever before, ensuring we balance our rich biodiversity with the urgent need to progress vital renewable infrastructure.

“As we continue to harness the benefits of UK offshore wind, we remain firmly committed to collaborating with these organisations to build knowledge and evidence to help us understand how the increasingly busy marine environment can continue to thrive and support the wide variety of ecosystems and industries which rely on it.”

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This month saw the price of offshore wind fall to record lows and today’s announcement will take us another step closer to increasing current levels of capacity almost five-fold by 2030.

“We are already a world leader in offshore wind and these new sites will help secure more clean, affordable, homegrown power for millions of households across the country, while reducing their reliance on costly fossil fuels.”

Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, said: “As the first country in the world to declare a climate emergency, we welcome our partnership with the Crown Estate to deliver renewable energy projects here in Wales.

“We want to harness the power of our natural resources to benefit our communities, through projects that invest in local supply chains and green, skilled jobs.”

RSPB director for conservation Katie-Jo Luxton said: “We are pleased that in planning new offshore windfarms, energy companies will now need to show what they will do about the seabirds that will be lost, displaced or impacted by a new development.

"Requiring developers to reach agreement on detailed compensation plans to tackle that damage before they submit their applications is a positive step forward.  

"The UK Government has rightly set targets for tackling the nature and climate emergency by halting species decline and decarbonising our energy sector, and we believe much more effort is now needed to put the right tools in place so that offshore wind does not need to tackle climate change at the expense of our seabirds or wider marine health."

“Our seabirds need urgent help, so as we plan for the next decade and beyond with offshore wind, we must take every opportunity to reduce or remove pressures and rebuild the resilience of our seabird populations before we commit to a path that is irreversible for any of our globally important colonies.”