A package of improvement
Will the offshore wind environmental improvement package live up to expectations and deliver the support needed to help our industry meet the UK’s energy targets?
Jess Breedon, Stakeholder Lead, White Cross Project
Renewable energy has a key role to play in our future and will be central to tackling climate change and delivering energy security, which needs to be delivered quickly.
The UK has long been a leader in offshore wind energy, and we must maintain this position if we are to achieve our Net Zero and energy security targets.
Like all developers, we are committed to the rapid delivery of offshore wind projects, but the complex and mulit-stage process of development that has evolved means our projects are taking longer than planned, and much longer than any developer would like! As our industry expands and gains further momentum, more new technology develops and our geographical locations broaden; however the challenges continue to arise.
One of these longstanding challenges is around the potential environmental impacts and the need to protect our precious and valuable natural spaces. This is something that we all feel strongly about at Flotation Energy, and our highly experienced consenting team ensure that our projects coexist with, and have a positive impact on the natural environment. This also reflects one of our core values to ‘Care for our Environment’.
However, the complex consent and extensive environmental assessment process currently required to ensure environmental protection, presents a barrier to rapid offshore wind development. The Government has recognised this and is developing an Offshore Wind Environmental Improvement Package. Having been involved in an earlier iteration of this package in a previous role, I was excited to see the update released at the end of last year, providing more information on the aspects of the package which will require legislative changes. You can read more about it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-security-bill-factsheets/energy-security-bill-factsheet-offshore-wind-environmental-improvement-package
It is good to see the emphasis on simplifying process, collaboration and a strategic approach but we are still lacking detail on what exactly these changes will be and how they will alter the current processes. Of particular interest to me, and I am sure many others, is how the changes relating to the compressed consenting timeline will be delivered without reducing environmental protections or community engagement opportunities. Also of consideration is the resource constraints on the regulators and Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies, which are making it difficult for them to engage in the process in a timely fashion.
We will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the Offshore Wind Environmental Improvement Package and how this will support developers in achieving the UK’s ambitious renewable energy targets.