Introduction

Together SSE Renewables and RWE Renewables have been active in the East Anglia region since the organisations developed the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, located 25km off the coast of Suffolk in the North Sea. The 504 megawatt (MW) project started construction in 2008 and at the time was the world’s largest offshore wind farm. It has 140 wind turbines and was commissioned in September 2012. North Falls is an extension project to Greater Gabbard.

Extensions overview

In February 2017 The Crown Estate, manager of the seabed, launched a process for wind farm operators to apply for extensions to their existing projects. This opportunity closed in May 2018, with eight project applications received.

A plan level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), was undertaken to assess the possible impact of the proposed wind farm extensions on relevant nature conservation sites of European importance.

Expert independent advisors were utilised and there were consultations with the statutory marine planning authorities, the statutory nature conservation bodies and a number of non-governmental stakeholders.

In August 2019, The Crown Estate announced the conclusion of the HRA confirming that seven of the 2017 extension application projects, representing a total generating capacity of 2.85GW, would progress to the award of development rights, including what is now called North Falls Offshore Wind Farm.

The Agreement for Lease between North Falls Offshore Wind Farm and The Crown Estate was signed in Autumn 2020 and the project is now in the early stages of development with the aim of achieving a Development Consent Order (DCO) in 2025.

Construction would then take place in the latter part of the decade with a view to the project being operational by 2030, aligned to Government targets.

High level programme

Date Action

2020 to 2023

Onshore and offshore surveys and studies, project planning and design, stakeholder consultation and community engagement undertaken, along with an Environmental Assessment and Project Level Habitats Regulations Assessment.

Spring 2023

Environmental Impact Assessment completed.
Project Level Habitats Regulations Assessment completed.

Summer 2023

Development Consent Order and supporting Environmental Information submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

2024/25

Planning Inspectorate makes recommendation to the Secretary of State.
Secretary of State announces consent decision.

2025

Project design finalised, major component and construction contracts awarded and wind farm constructed.

2030

Wind farm expected to be operational by the end of the decade.

Key facts and figures

20km off UK coast

Located 20 kilometres off the UK coast in the southern North Sea, covering area of 150 km2

55km

Provisional offshore cable route length

Up to 71 turbines

Number of potential turbines, depending on the size selected

North Essex

Onshore grid connection is still to be provided by National Grid but a likely location is in North Essex.

£1.5bn

Potential investment to supply more than 400k UK homes with clean renewable power

40GW by 2030

Contributing to the UK government's ambitions of 40GW offshore wind by 2030

2023

Order application and supporting environmental assessment scheduled for submission in 2023

SSE/RWE

North Falls is being developed by a joint venture company owned equally by SSE Renewables and RWE

Neighbouring project

In close proximity to North Falls is Five Estuaries Offshore Wind Farm, the extension project to the existing 353MW Galloper Wind Farm, located around 30km off the East of England coast.

While Five Estuaries is a distinct and separate project from North Falls, given the projects’ adjacent locations, opportunities for co-ordination will be explored and implemented if practicable, commercially viable and within the relevant regulatory frameworks.

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