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Land referencing and archaeological investigations begin

(July 2023).

Rory O’Brien, Land Manager

I joined Flotation Energy 2 months ago and have really hit the ground running. Working across all land matters on both the White Cross and Morecambe projects, I have been progressing our land management strategy, coordinating with land agents and engaging with landowners along our proposed onshore cable routes.

Having previously worked in the Northern Irish Electrical Utility Sector with the transmission System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) as a Land Manager, I have a strong track record and keen interest in renewable energy, planning policies, legal constraints, and stakeholder negotiations. In this previous role I focused on securing landowner and land use agreements. I come from a farming background, and I still actively work on the family farm. This experience gives me a good understanding and appreciation of the challenges and difficulties faced by farmers and landowners in carrying out their activities and I am looking forward to applying this background to my new role at Flotation Energy.

It is an exciting time to be getting involved with the White Cross project as activities are getting underway on the ground to progress this vitally important project.

Land referencing  

Work is underway to complete the land referencing, a detailed process to identify all landowners and stakeholders with an interest in the land required for every aspect of the onshore project.

Following an initial desk-based search of landowners, using Land Registry information, site notices have been put up by our Land Agents, Dalcour Maclaren across a large area around Braunton Marsh, Braunton Burrows and East Yelland. These site notices confirm the Land Registry information, covering all land areas that might be needed by the project, including the cable corridor, any temporary site areas and access routes.

The process of displaying site notices helps the project in two ways: Firstly, they raise awareness of the project in the local area. Secondly, they encourage landowners or, other stakeholders with a formal interest in any piece of land, to get in touch with Dalcour Maclaren and confirm that the information held by the Land Agent is correct and up to date. Holding the correct information is important for both landowners and project representatives as it ensures that as we move forward, communication is with the relevant stakeholders and is consistent, assisting the project progresses smoothly and efficiently.

Archaeological trench investigations  

An example of why the land referencing is required, is to enable archaeological investigations to be undertaken. Braunton Marsh and the surrounding area is of particular interest in relation to archaeology. Therefore, we are required by the Devon County Archaeologist to undertake a large campaign of trial trenches to gain a greater understanding of the archaeology in the area.

As we are already aware of all the landowners along the cable corridor, we have begun discussions to agree access to this land to undertake these important investigations; some are already underway! The results of these investigations will inform project design and ultimately enable us to progress in a way that delivers the construction of the offshore windfarm and associated onshore transmission assets, whilst protecting the important cultural heritage of the area.

The image at the top of the page shows a fully excavated trench with the markers identifying a curvi-linear feature. Once all of the recording of archaeological features is complete, the soil will be replaced into the trench and re-instated to its original condition.

As we continue to complete the land referencing, engage with landowners and stakeholders, as well as progressing towards full land agreements, the planning process and our planning application With North Devon Council will continue in parallel.

We are scheduled to submit our application to the North Devon Council Planning Authority in late July 2023.

Rory O’Brien, Land Manager – Flotation Energy

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