Sussex’s offshore wind farm could double in size: everything we know so far

The Rampion Wind Farm off the coast of Sussex could double in size. Here is everything we know so far.

Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 3:56 pm

According to a report from Littlehampton Town Council, 116 wind turbines could be built west of the existing wind farm, around 13km from the coast, with ‘supporting onshore infrastructure’ reaching landfall at Climping.

The current wind farm comprises 116 turbines on a 70 square kilometre site located between 13 and 20 kilometres off the Sussex coast in the English Channel, south of Newhaven, Brighton and Worthing, and generates enough electricity to power the equivalent of around 350,000 UK homes: almost half the homes in Sussex.

What is the latest on the project’s progress?

The construction of the Rampion Wind Farm project in 2018

The project is in the early stages, with a 900-page report having been produced to see what the environmental impact would be in the broad area being considered by Rampion Extension, the company set up to deliver it.

It has been carrying out ‘feasibility surveys and an environmental scoping exercise’ to understand the ‘conditions and constraints’ any expansion may face.

A Rampion Extension spokesman said: “Early draft proposals are still some way off and will need to go through a rigorous public consultation and a full, formal consenting process.”

In the next few weeks, Rampion Extension hoped to complete an agreement with The Crown Estate, which owns the seabed, so it could continue to develop plans for the site.

Once this is agreed, project leaders will consult with all parties affected by the plans and communities across Sussex ‘to seek their feedback and help shape our early draft proposals’, the spokesman said.

As part of the planning process, the Planning Inspectorate has already sought the opinions of those areas affected before a planning application is expected to be submitted in the third quarter of 2021.

Any scheme, if approved, is unlikely to start construction until 2025 at the earliest and would not be completed until 2028/29, Rampion Extension said.

What has the reaction been to the proposals so far?

At a meeting of Littlehampton Town Council’s Planning and Transportation Committee on July 20, councillors gave their feedback.

Councillors Andrea Turner and Jill Long were both concerned about the impact that an extended wind farm would have on the town’s fishermen.

Jill said: “This is doubling the existing size of the wind farm, let’s be clear.

“Local fishermen are already under enormous pressure with the huge trawlers that come over now and then.

“I’m also never sure what the impact these structures actually have on the local ecology.”

Councillor Ian Buckland wanted to know why the power was only going to one electrical substation in Bolney, north of Brighton, with fears that East Sussex would benefit more from the electricity.

He said: “Wouldn’t it be better if it was shared out to other substations?”

The committee also wanted Eon to investigate the onshore impact locally during its construction and to make sure the expansion project team referred back to analysis of the original wind farm’s construction at all stages to make sure lessons learned were acted on.

This feedback has been sent to the Planning Inspectorate.