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Frequently Asked Questions

Project overview

What is the primary objective of the White Cross offshore wind farm?

Floating turbine technology is the next step in the development of offshore wind. It enables deployment in deeper water than fixed offshore windfarms and for turbines to be located further from shore. The UK Government has an ambition to deliver 5GW of floating offshore wind by 2030.

White Cross is a small pre-commercial scale test and demonstration project of floating offshore wind turbines. The aim is to test this new technology in the Celtic Sea to support future development of offshore wind in the region and support local supply chain development. White Cross will support the delivery of the ambition for 5GW of floating offshore wind.

Is the project part of Leasing Round 5 currently being run by The Crown Estate?

White Cross is not part of Leasing Round 5. The rights for the White Cross development were secured from The Crown Estate in July 2021 as a test and demonstration site. Test and demonstration sites will support future development and commercialisation of innovative technologies in the region and help build local supply chains.

Cabling route questions

22 cable routes were originally proposed. Did White Cross simply choose the cheapest route for the cable?

No. While the chosen cable route is certainly one of the shorter routes it is not the cheapest on account of the specialist drilling techniques we will be using. The landfall and location were identified thought detailed assessments that consider consultation feedback, and that balances environmental, technical and commercial issues. Our primary concern was to avoid sensitive designated sites were possible. In the two locations where we do pass under a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), we will be using what’s known as trenchless drilling, a technique which allows us to avoid disrupting the surface.

What is the purpose of the cables?

The cables will carry power generated by the floating turbines back to the shore where it can be connected to the National Grid via a substation at East Yelland. They will be buried underground and will not affect access to Saunton Sands. Like other power and telecommunications cables which come ashore around the UK coast, they will not be visible once work is complete.

Will the cables be visible?

Once we have laid the cables there will be very little to see between Saunton Sands and the East Yelland Substation. The cables will be below ground, like many other power cables.

What types of cables will be used?

They will be either two 66kV or one 132kV underground electricity transmission cables which will be buried underground so they don’t affect wildlife, habitats or views of the area.

How big are the cables?

The maximum diameter of the cable within the duct will be 25cm.

How will the cabling affect the environment?

The project will take steps to ensure the cabling work does not have any significant or long term impact on the local environment. One of the legacies of the project will be an improvement in local biodiversity.


  • The cable route has been amended to avoid affecting the Braunton Burrows Special Area of Conservation
  • On the more environmentally sensitive parts of the route we will be using trenchless drilling techniques, so we do not disturb wildlife or habitats
  • There will be an Ecological Clerk of Works on site to ensure environmental management plans are followed. That person will have the power to stop work if they are concerned about anything we are doing affecting the environment.
  • The project is aiming to achieve a 10% net gain in biodiversity compared to before we started work. This target is likely to become legally binding in 2024.


You can find out more about how we will safeguard wildlife and habitats on our website here.

What is your proposed route for the cable?

The cable will make landfall at the north of Saunton Sands beach near the car park. It will then run under the golf course before turning south, going under the Taw Estuary and connecting to the grid at East Yelland. You can see a map here.

Why have you chosen that route – wouldn’t it be more direct to go up the Taw-Torridge Estuary?

A route up the Taw-Torridge Estuary has been considered by the project team, but it is not viable. The estuary has a large tidal range, which would make burying the cable very difficult. The cable would have to be laid on the estuary bed instead, with rock protection covering it to a height of approximately 1.5 metres. That would be a danger to shipping and interfere with the way sediment moves along the estuary. You can find out more about why we chose the cable route here

What factors led to the identification of the landfall location and cable route?

The White Cross project will use the remaining capacity at the existing East Yelland substation to connect to the grid and transmit energy. This has determined the area of search for the landfall location.

The landfall location and cable route was identified through a detailed assessment process that considers consultation comments and balances environmental, technical and commercial issues. The process aims to avoid features including environmentally sensitive and nature conservation areas, historic designations, flood zones and other infrastructure whilst minimising the route length. Land conditions and suitability for cable burial have also been considered.

Discussions with, and feedback from, local stakeholders and Natural England supported the identification of the final cable route.

Saunton Sands car park and the beach

Why is the project using Saunton Sands car park?

The power cable from the turbines comes ashore at the north of the beach near the car park. We will need to work in this area, and this will take up some spaces. However, we will do all we can to minimise the temporary reduction of available  parking, and we will hand back spaces as quickly as possible after work is complete.

The traffic arriving and leaving at the car park will normally be employees travelling to the site in the morning and leaving in the evening. There will also be a limited number of HGV arrivals and departures. You can find out more about our use of the car park here

How many spaces will you be using?

The number of spaces we will need will vary throughout the programme of work. We will schedule the work so we need fewer spaces during the summer holiday season.

During the landfall construction works we will need the largest number of spaces – estimated to be approximately 250 out of a total of 650-700 spaces. This work will take place between September and April when the car park is less busy than in the summer.

Once landfall works have been completed, we will be able to hand some spaces back. For the rest of the construction period, when we will be drilling under the golf course, we are likely to use approximately 140 spaces. This period is expected to last for up to nine months.

Will you provide alternative parking?

We are considering further mitigation measures and we will update you on these as soon as we can.

How will you manage the parts of the car park you are using?

Our working area will be fenced off and separated from the rest of the car park. There will be appropriate signage, and we will use traffic marshals as required.

How will work affect Saunton Sands?

There will be no effect on Saunton Sands beach or the dunes once the work is complete. The cable will be safely buried underground and will not be visible. This is the case with many other power and telecommunication cables which make landfall around the coast of the UK. When the cable comes ashore, we will be working in narrow corridor for a number of hours. When installing the cable from the beach to the car park we will be working in an area of the beach not larger than 18 metres by 10 metres, for 2 weeks. There will be no restriction preventing people from accessing the beach. Once that work is complete, that section of the beach will be available to use in the same way it is now.

Traffic and HGV movements

How much additional traffic will there be?

For most of the construction period, we estimate there will be a maximum of 18 arrivals and 18 departures for HGVs per day.

Working hours will be restricted to 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 1pm on Saturdays.

We are not proposing to work on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

The busiest time will be when we are working on the area where the cable comes ashore, and there will be more HGV movements at that point.

This work will last for one month and will happen outside the peak summer holiday season.

The predicted number of vehicle movements in this period is a maximum of 92 movements per day (46 arrivals and 46 departures along the A1361 and the B3231).

That figure is a “worst case scenario” and we are putting measures in place which will reduce that number significantly. We will provide updated information soon, but we are confident HGV movements will be lower than the maximum of 92 per day, even in the busiest periods.

Will there be more traffic in Braunton as a result of the work?

We recognise there are concerns about increases in traffic in Braunton and we will make sure we do everything we can to minimise traffic movements during the construction work. When the project moves into the detailed planning stage we will produce a detailed Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) which will include details of the control measures which we will put in place.

The CTMP will include the routes we plan to use, the timing of deliveries, limits on vehicle numbers and procedures for monitoring the way the project is affecting transport and travel.

The environment and biodiversity

The water table reaches nearly the height of the road near Braunton Burrows in winter which would make laying a cable impossible. Have you factored this into your research?

Yes we have. We conducted thorough hydrological and hydrogeological assessments along the cable route alongside construction feasibility assessments.

The Environment Agency objected to the proposal on the grounds of it being a flood risk. What have you changed to mitigate this?

Engagement is ongoing with the Environment Agency, North Devon Council and the White Cross project team. We have amended the substation design and included further detail in our Flood Risk Assessment to mitigate these issues.

I heard that there are specific species that are under strict environmental protection at Saunton – how will you ensure these species are protected?

The project will take all necessary steps to protect the sensitive environment around Saunton and along the whole of the cable route. Independent ecologists have surveyed the land which will be impacted by our cabling work to make sure we understand the biodiversity and habitats in the area before we start work.

We are committed to achieve a 10% net gain in biodiversity following the completion of the work. This is required by the local planning authority and is expected to become legally binding during 2024.

Once we finish cabling work, further surveys will be carried out to assess how wildlife and habitats have been affected . We will use a specialist methodology which recognises the importance of different habitats to assess which are the most important or distinctive. This ensures that work we do to enhance to create habitats to compensate for any which have been affected will be done on a “like for like” or “like for better” basis.

In the most environmentally sensitive parts of the cable route we will be using trenchless drilling technology to ensure no wildlife or habitats are affected.

You can find out more about how we will protect the local environment here.

How will you monitor the impact the work has on the local environment?

We will have an Ecological Clerk of Works (an independent specialist) on site to make sure wildlife and habitats are protected. They have the power to stop works if they are concerned, and they are there to ensure that construction follows the environmental management plans agreed in advance.

How will petalwort be affected by the cable work?

Braunton Burrows is home to petalwort, which is a rare and protected species. However, the parts of the dunes which are likely to support petalwort are at least 100 metres away from the area where we need to work. We have commissioned a bryologist – a person specialising in the study of mosses and liverworts including petalwort – to review the data. We will share their report with North Devon Council and Natural England and make details available on the website.

How will water and groundwater be affected by the cable work?

Some flowers and habitats are sensitive to changes in groundwater and surface water. However, our cable route has been planned to be  sufficiently far away from the SAC, and / or deep underground, that we are confident it will not have a significant effect on either surface water or ground water. The trenching and other works are not expected to cause any adverse effect on water or ecosystems.

How will the project prevent nesting birds being disturbed?

We will remove a limited number of plants during the cabling work, but this will happen outside the nesting season, which is between March and August for most species.

If any small areas of vegetation need to be moved during the season, our ecologists will check first to see if there are any nests before allowing the work to go ahead. If there are nests, work will be delayed until after the birds have finished nesting.

Will the work disturb bats?

Our ecologists have carried out surveys to monitor bats along Saunton Road, and we will put measures in place to make sure they are not disturbed during the cabling work.

We are exploring the option of providing temporary flight lines for bats. One way this is done it to provide a replacement hedge line which will act as a flight line. This is a tried and tested method for protecting bats during projects like this.

How will lighting effect wildlife during the construction period?

Our team will need temporary lighting along the cable route and operational lighting at the onshore substation at East Yelland. A lighting impact assessment covering the temporary works area at Saunton Road will be completed before the planning decision is made, and the lighting will be designed to avoid disrupting wildlife.

We do not expect to be working very often at night, so night time lighting will be the exception rather than the rule. We will take appropriate measures to minimise disturbance to wildlife, using down lighting and dimming lights where possible.

Some low-level security lighting might also be needed at works compounds, but this will also be kept to a minimum to avoid disturbing wildlife.

Where can I find out more about the project and the environment in North Devon?

You can find more detail in our Environmental Statement here.

How will electro-magnetic fields from the cables affect people and the environment?

All cables which will be used in the project will comply with the Government’s Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) public exposure guidance. This will ensure that the risk of impacts from electro-magnetic fields from this project are extremely low. All the cables will include a protective layer over the cable insulation to contain the electric fields and be buried underground to minimise the risk of impact.

Dynamic cables associated with floating turbines float in the water column. Although they are not buried in the seabed they are ‘shielded’ by a protective layer in the cable to minimise levels of EMF. We are investigating studies and research to support the assessment of this on fish and other marine ecological species.

What steps have been taken to protect the local marine environment and the particularly sensitive environment of Lundy Island?

The White Cross site selection has been undertaken to avoid as far as possible key commercial fisheries and protected species and habitats. Surveys have been undertaken and previous survey data has been reviewed to support site selection.

At its closest point, Lundy Island is approximately 44km from the White Cross offshore windfarm. At this distance, the offshore windfarm is likely to be intermittently and infrequently visible.

Detailed assessments have been undertaken to consider the potential impacts on the seascape, landscape, and visual amenity of Lundy Island, and its cultural heritage. The assessment of seascape, landscape, and visual amenity (including views) has been informed through fieldwork survey, visibility analysis, and the preparation of baseline photography and visualisations from a sensitive viewpoint located on the island.

What will be the impact of the windfarm on the quality of the surfing on the local North Devon coast especially within the North Devon World Surfing Reserve?

As part of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) an independent wave modelling study was undertaken which verified that the White Cross turbines will cause no noticeable change to the waves at the coast. This report was included in the application documents. Our array of seven units will be located 52.5km (or 32 miles) from shore. Where wave impacts are recorded, these are generally only up to 1km around the floating turbine units. Our findings are consistent with wave modelling conducted at two offshore wind farms in East Anglia, which although bigger than White Cross, also showed no impact to wave quality.

We are working to minimise any adverse impacts on parking capacity at Saunton Sands during construction and we will continue to engage with the surfing community.


How will the cabling project be managed to ensure businesses and the tourist industry are not disrupted?

The White Cross project team recognises how important tourism is for the whole of North Devon. We intend to do all we can to make sure local businesses face as little disruption as possible during the work to connect the windfarm to the grid.

As a result of people sharing concerns, we have listened, and we will:


  • Schedule as much of the work as possible to happen outside the main tourist season
  • Scale down our use of Saunton Sands car park to the minimum
  • Compensate businesses which lose income as a direct result of the work
  • Take steps to limit the amount of extra traffic


The White Cross Offshore Windfarm project team has undertaken assessments to understand the economic impacts onshore cabling could have on businesses. We accept the work will affect some businesses in the immediate area around the cable route between Saunton Sands and the Taw-Torridge Estuary. This work is likely to be completed in less than a year, and an independent assessment has confirmed that only a relatively small number of companies will be affected.

There will be a compensation scheme to ensure that no business directly affected by the work loses out financially. Details of this scheme, appropriate criteria and evidence requirements are being developed.

What is the expected timeline for the cabling installation process?

We would expect to start work on the onshore construction in 2027. We will schedule the busiest periods of work outside the peak summer holiday season to minimise traffic and use as few spaces at Saunton Sands car park as possible.

How is the safety of the cabling installation ensured?

All the work will be carried out to the highest professional standards and will meet the requirements of UK regulations. We will use properly qualified and licenced contractors and staff for all aspects of the work to ensure we comply with all relevant health and safety legislation and guidelines.

How can I stay updated on the progress of the cabling?

We will update the community on our website and through periodic news releases to the local press. You can also sign up to receive our newsletter here.

What is bentonite and is how will it be used by the project?

To avoid disturbing some of the most environmentally sensitive parts of the route, we plan to use trenchless drilling techniques, so the work takes place underground.

Drilling underground uses an inert and non-toxic clay called Bentonite as a lubricant. This clay is used because it can absorb many times its own weight in water. Our team will have a detailed plan to ensure that in the unlikely event of a spill, measures are in place to mitigate and contain the problem very rapidly.  This plan will be submitted as part of the application further information, and we will work with Natural England and other experts to ensure it is effective.

Our contractors will work to the highest standards and will follow expert advice to ensure Bentonite is used safely at all times.

How will air quality be affected by the cabling work?

The effects of traffic emissions linked to the project have been assessed according to the relevant British standards. The increased emissions will be negligible and not significant to human health.

Have you carried out an air quality assessment?

An air quality assessment is required if a construction scheme is going to continue for more than two years. Because the cabling work will take less than a year, and because of the number of HGV movements involved, an air quality assessment is not required. This approach was agreed with the Environmental Health Consultant at North Devon Council.

However, we will monitor work to ensure dust is kept to a minimum and ensure we avoid unnecessary traffic movements.

Local businesses

How did you do the economic impact assessment? Was it based purely on the businesses situated on the cable route?

No, the economic assessment was carried out based on two separate regions; a smaller region defined as North Devon and Torridge, and a wider assessment based on the UK.

The Construction Traffic assessment has shown that increases are sufficiently low that they will not have a material impact on local businesses.

Outside of these assessments, there are businesses along the cable route with the potential to be adversely impacted. They will be compensated in line with the statutory compensation code. We will also compensate businesses that do not meet the statutory compensation code but have been disrupted, in line with our project agreed criteria.

How will you make sure the project doesn’t disrupt local businesses?

We will work closely with local businesses to makes sure the work we are carrying out has as little impact as possible. We know tourist businesses are very important in the area where the cable is coming ashore, so we will schedule as much work as we can outside the main summer season.

What happens if a business loses revenue because of the cabling work or the loss of car parking spaces?

We are not expecting to have a significant effect on local businesses because the work will be temporary and much of it will be scheduled to take place outside the main holiday season. We will also put mitigation measures in place to reduce the impact of HGV movements and the temporary loss of parking spaces. However, if a business has evidence it has lost revenue as a direct result of the onshore cabling work, we will have a compensation scheme in place. Further details We want to work closely with the local community, including businesses, and we will listen to concerns and be as flexible as we can.

How will fishing vessels that work from local harbours be affected?

We are in the process of gathering data on fishing activity through data available from the MMO, Cefas, the Devon and Severn and Cornwall IFCAs and through discussions with relevant fisheries organisation (NFFO, CFPO etc.).  As part of this data collection, we are speaking with fishermen to identify key fishing grounds.

Commercial fisheries are scoped into the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Project and potential impacts will be fully considered and suitable mitigation measures developed, as appropriate. The scope of the impact assessment for fisheries will investigate whether the project has the potential to affect fishing activity and if so how this activity will be affected.  We will be looking at impacts such as disruption and displacement of fishing activity, increased risk of snagging, effects on target species and will also look at effects on navigation of fishing vessels.

During any pre-construction/installation survey works, early dialogue with the local fishermen is key to insuring everyone is aware of planned activities, also when and where these are taking place. Should gear relocation be required to access a busy fishing area, this will be done through the correct channels and in line with The Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group Best Practice Guidance.

Will fishing be possible within the windfarm area?

Unfortunately for safety reasons it is unlikely to be possible to fish within the wind turbine mooring footprint area. The turbines that will be installed at White Cross will be floating turbines likely to be anchored to the seabed with catenary moorings. The moorings will spread out approximately 600m from each turbine [max of 1200m diameter] which will present a snagging risk to fishing gear.

However, there will only be between 6 and 8 turbines in the White Cross development which only occupy approximately 20% of the White Cross site area. Information will be made available to ensure that the area of the windfarm is charted and stakeholders are aware of the location of the mooring lines. It should still be possible to fish in the remaining array area that is not occupied by turbines and moorings.

Public consultation

Last year there were four meetings with residents, and they were overcrowded. How are you addressing that this time around?

It is important everyone gets a chance to air their views and also find out more about the project. For that reason we have spread our consultation across two days, three separate venues to give the whole community the opportunity to engage.

It is true that the events at the Braunton Countryside Centre and Braunton Parish Hall regarding White Cross had very high attendance; however these were not organised by us.