Equinor begins community consultation for offshore wind farm extensions

Equinor has launched a community consultation today (Thursday 9 July) to seek local views on its plans to extend its existing wind farms off the Norfolk coast.

The company currently operates two wind farms from Norfolk, Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, and through its employees, supply chain and community funds has been present in the community for close to a decade.

Called the Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects (the “Extension Projects”), these new wind farms will be built adjacent to the existing wind farms, bringing the total capacity up to 1.44GW, enough renewable energy to power one and a half million UK homes.

Cables from the Extension Projects will come ashore at Weybourne, before being installed in a trench heading south towards a new onshore substation near to the existing National Grid Norwich Main Substation.

This first phase of community consultation runs from today (9 July) until 20 August 2020, and in particular feedback is being sought regarding the location of the site for the onshore substation, the route to be taken by the underground onshore cables and any lessons that can be taken from the earlier construction of both the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farms.

Equinor has published a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) which sets out how the company will be engaging with the local Norfolk community to ensure that they can provide comments and feedback on the plans as they develop.

To keep the conversation going whilst social distancing remains in place, Equinor has developed a range of options online and via dedicated communications lines to invite community feedback and ensure that all interested parties have access to all the information.

These include:
  • a consultation website https://sepanddep.commonplace.is where interested members of the public are able to provide their comments via an interactive digital engagement platform
  • a virtual exhibition https://event.sepanddep.co.uk and interactive online space with more information about the projects and the planning and construction processes
  • the Projects’ Community Liaison Officer, Nigel Tompkins, based in Norfolk (E-mail: nigel@ni4b.co.uk)

Additionally, over 9,000 properties within 1km of the proposed onshore cable corridor search area from Weybourne to the Norwich Main substation, south of Norwich, have been mailed a community consultation leaflet and feedback form. In parallel, the company is consulting with landowners within the indicative survey area.

“It’s really important to us to hear from the community at this early stage of the project, so that we can consider feedback from the local people as the projects develop”, says Kari Hege Mørk, project manager at Equinor.

“It’s a challenging time to engage as we can’t physically meet in person but we hope that the materials we have provided, including our virtual exhibition space, will give people enough information to be able to comment on our onshore plans. We’ve also got lots of channels of communication open if people have further queries, and we really encourage anyone who has an interest in the project to have a look.

“One area we’re specifically looking for input on is to help us inform the criteria for the site selection of the onshore substation area, close to the Norwich Main substation, as well as feedback to assist us in refining the detail of the onshore cable route from Weybourne to the substation site.”

On completion of this first phase of community consultation, Equinor will compile and publish a report summarising the feedback received and how this is being considered.

Both Extension Projects are classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) which means Equinor will apply for a Development Consent Order from the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A second phase of community consultation will be held in Spring 2021 when the company will be presenting its refined plans, inviting comments to its Preliminary Environmental Report (PEIR) and providing additional information including visualisations of what the Extension Projects will look like onshore and from the coast
Equinor intends to submit the Development Consent Order application by the end of 2021.

Fact Box:

The Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm is owned by Equinor, Masdar and China Resources, whilst the shareholders in the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm are Equinor, Equitix and Green Investment Group.

Currently, the combined output of both wind farms is sufficient to power around 750,000 UK homes, and the proposed extensions will increase that to around 1.5 million UK households.

Both wind farms have established community funds which in total have awarded over £1 million to projects in Norfolk. The funds were set up to provide grants to Norfolk community groups, including schools and NGOs, seeking financial assistance for projects or initiatives that meet key criteria and focus on renewable energy, marine environment and safety, sustainability, or education in these areas. For the remaining months of 2020 the funds will be providing grant funding to the Norfolk Community Foundationā€˜s COVID-19 funding initiatives, specifically for COVID-19 support initiatives in Norfolk.

For further information please contact:

Erik Haaland
T: +47 95421770
E: erhaa@equinor.com

Issue date: 09-07-20