This document supports a request for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Opinion from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for the Thanet Extension Offshore Wind Farm (Thanet Extension). Thanet Extension is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and as such an EIA is required as part of a Development Consent Order (DCO) application under the Planning Act 2008.
Thanet Extension is being developed by Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd (Vattenfall) a company which has invested nearly £3bn in the UK, in onshore and offshore wind since 2008 and is expected to have nearly 1GW in operation onshore and offshore by 2017. Vattenfall plans to invest £5bn in renewables, mainly offshore wind, in Northern Europe by 2020. Vattenfall has world leading experience in offshore wind, as owner of Kentish Flats, Kentish Flats Extension, Ormonde, and Thanet Offshore Wind Farms, which are currently operational in the UK, as well as a growing portfolio of wind projects across its European markets.
The key drivers for renewable energy, and therefore the Thanet Extension project are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing energy security, and maximising economic opportunities from investment for the UK. In addition, extension projects are considered to represent a significant opportunity for cost reduction in offshore wind, an increasingly important consideration under the highly competitive UK subsidy regime and drive to deliver the best possible value to the consumer. The proposed project would have a generation capacity of up to 340MW and produce enough energy to power over 229,000 homes in the UK.
The Thanet Extension would be located off the south east coast of Kent in the South East of England approximately 8km offshore (at the closest point), in proximity to the operational Thanet Offshore Wind Farm (TOWF). Electricity generated would be transported to the shore by offshore export cables installed within the proposed Thanet Extension Offshore Export Cable Corridor.
The project would also require onshore infrastructure in order to connect the offshore wind farm to the electricity network, which in summary will comprise:
- Landfall and transition pit;
- Underground export cables; and
- Onshore substation;
At the time of writing, Vattenfall are in negotiation with National Grid regarding an agreement for connection to the electricity transmission network at the site of the former Richborough Power Station. A grid connection agreement is expected to be in place in 2017, prior to submission of the application for DCO. The exact location of the landfall and onshore infrastructure are yet to be determined, though a Thanet Extension Onshore Area of Interest (encompassing areas being considered for siting of the onshore substation, plus landfall and Onshore Cable Route Options) has been defined for consultation purposes and is referred to throughout this document.
Site selection within the Onshore Area of Interest is ongoing and responses to the Scoping Request and associated public consultation will help to inform the development of the Thanet Extension project.
The EIA will be completed by technical specialists using best practice and following appropriate guidance. Early feasibility work and consultation with major stakeholders has determined that key aspects of the EIA are likely to be seascape, landscape and visual, shipping and navigation, ornithology, commercial fisheries, and marine and coastal designated sites. This Report to Inform Scoping outlines all of the receptors that will be considered during the EIA and the planned approach to characterising the existing environment, assessing potential impacts associated with Thanet Extension and developing mitigation measures.
Consultation is already underway and will be ongoing with stakeholders throughout the EIA and DCO application process. Vattenfall is committed to engaging with the community and other stakeholders, and working alongside them to deliver a project of the best possible quality.
Section 4.2 of this Scoping Report provides an outline of the undertaken and planned consultation associated with the project.