News: 28 September 2020Appointed to support North Falls Offshore Wind Farm

With RWE and SSE Renewables joining forces for North Falls Offshore Wind Farm, an extension to the existing Greater Gabbard, our Infrastructure and Environmental Planning team will play a leading role in the development consent order (DCO) consenting process.  

Our team, led by Ben Lewis, will bring a fresh approach to the consenting of offshore wind farms which focuses on applying a planning perspective and mindset to the process. 

This approach will ensure that all aspects of the technical assessment and consultation requirements can be identified, drawn together and addressed. The outcome from this mindset shift (compared to the engineering-led approaches seen on previous projects) will be to achieve a balanced resolution of all of the issues and factors, ultimately leading to a consent which is both flexible and deliverable. 

We'll be an integral part of the consenting team having oversight of, and responsibility for, the end-to-end delivery of the DCO, whilst will also work closely with the project’s key consultants including those responsible for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) as well as other advisors to ensure planning is at the centre of the overall consenting process. 

Ben Lewis our Infrastructure & Energy Director says: “This is a fantastic win for us and shows the potential of our consultancy model to support DCO developers on wind farm and other Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).  We bring a consent-focused approach grounded in planning and EIA strategy which places the DCO at the heart of the design process. We’re harnessing experience and expertise from across a wide portfolio of renewable energy and linear planning projects and packaging that into something distinctive. The combined experience of our team will bring real benefits to the project and we’re tremendously excited by the opportunity to showcase what we can do to support the realisation of the North Falls Offshore Wind Farm.”

Daniel Harper, Consents Manager at North Falls, says: “We’re assembling a bespoke team to deliver this incredibly important project and ensure that it progresses smoothly through the planning and consenting process. Barton Willmore will bring a great deal of DCO experience, which will undoubtably add value to our project. Their skills and expertise are well-known and we’re looking forward to working with them.”

The three-year North Falls Offshore Wind Farm development programme will see us and the wider consultancy team work together to prepare the application, from initial site surveys and stakeholder consultation to finalising the application design and associated assessments. The team’s work will allow the client to identify the optimum approach for the wind farm balanced with a suitable package for mitigating environmental or ecological impacts, minimising these wherever possible.  

Will Spencer our Infrastructure & Environmental Planning Associate says: “The importance of getting offshore wind farm consenting right is only increasing. The seabed is becoming busier, the criticality of the UK reaching Net Zero more obvious, and the growth opportunities for the offshore wind sector more evident.  All of this means that having a team that can skilfully lead and collaborate with specialists in the consenting process is vital for wind farm developers. We’re looking forward to taking this role at North Falls.”

As part of the instruction, Will Spencer will be the lead DCO consultant and embedded to work within the client team.  This structure will further enable us to instil the ‘planning mindset’ that the client is seeking.

The existing Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, which is located more than 20 kilometres off the UK coast in the southern North Sea, has an operational capacity of 504 megawatts (MW). 

The proposed extension project is named North Falls Offshore Wind Farm, after the North Falls sandbank located to the southern tip of the proposed site, which covers an area of 150 km2 and is adjacent to Greater Gabbard.  The final generating capacity of the extension project will be determined during the development and consenting process.

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Offshore wind farm, wind farm, renewables, DCO, RWE, SSE Renewables