Approval means all parts of offshore wind megaproject planned by the developer off the East Anglian coast can proceed

The UK government has awarded planning consent for Vattenfall’s 1.8GW Norfolk Vanguard project, which had previously been sent back to the planning system by a legal challenge.

The approval of the project means that consent has now been approved for the entirety of the energy giant’s 3.6GW Norfolk Offshore Wind Farm Zone, which is expected to produce enough electricity annually to power the equivalent of 3.9 million homes from the mid-2020s onwards.

The government gave the go-ahead to Nofolk Vanguard’s sister site, the 1.8GW Norfolk Boreas project, last December.

Danielle Lane, UK country manager for Vattenfall, hailed the government’s decision to give the green light to the project as a “major step forward for a project that will help to unlock the huge potential of offshore wind for the UK”.

Vattenfall said its Norfolk Offshore Wind Farm Zone will comprise between 180 and 312 turbines over an area of 1,300 kilometre squared.

The government’s approval comes a year after the High Court quashed the government’s previous decision to grant a development consent order for the second half of the mega-project, arguing ministers had failed to take into account the full impacts of onshore transmission infrastructure. The decision came in the wake of objections raised by locals living near planned cable routes.

Lane said the company would work closely to ensure the project benefitted local communities as it was developed.

“We’re committed to making sure that these projects bring real, lasting benefit to the East of England – with jobs, supply chain and skills investment throughout construction and operation,” she said. We’ll be working even more closely now with local communities as we begin to take the project towards construction. This will include preparatory works on the ground, but also work with our local partners to make sure we get our plans absolutely right to maximise benefits to the region.”  

RenewableUK chief executive Dan McGrail said the decision would generate “enormous economic benefits for East Anglia”, while also fast-tracking the UK’s transition away from expensive fossil fuels.

“To help the UK to reach net zero emissions as fast as possible, the government has set the industry a target of nearly quadrupling our current offshore wind capacity to 40GW by the end of this decade,” he said. “Giving the go-ahead to a major project like Norfolk Vanguard is a big boost to help us to get there. It also demonstrates to the rest of the world that the UK is committed to taking significant practical action against climate change.”

The decision represents the second major boost to the UK’s renewables sector this week, after the government on Wednesday announced an accelerated timetable for its clean power contract auctions, confirming they will take place annually from next year instead of every two years.

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