Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Casework type: Marine Site designations: SPA
Pink footed geese Anser brachyrhyncus, in flight past wind turbines, Near Diepholz, Lower Saxony, Germany,

Overview

The implications of the wind farm on the areas birds and nearby habitats needs to be fully assessed. 

On 14 June 2013 RWE npower Renewables (RWE) applied to the Secretary of State for a Development Consent Order (under the 2008 Planning Act) for a wind farm in the outer Bristol Channel between Devon and south Wales, some 13.5km north of Lundy.

Known as the Atlantic Array, the proposed development would comprise up to 240 wind turbines distributed over 200square km, and would generate up to 1,200 MW of electricity.

Renewable energy is crucial if we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change, and south west England is blessed with a geography and climate which lend themselves to its generation. However, it's important that renewables projects are sited and designed so as not to pose significant risks to rare and threatened wildlife, and the RSPB has consequently taken a keen interest in this proposal. We have been working with RWE over the past few years to ensure adequate survey data is available to enable a robust assessment of the proposal's potential impacts on birds and other wildlife.   

Map

Why is it worth fighting for?

The marine environment off Devon and Cornwall and South Wales is important for thousands of wintering and breeding seabirds. 

Some coastal areas and islands are designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the European Birds Directive for supporting internationally important seabird populations.

Furthermore, very little information exists about the wildlife which uses the Atlantic Array zone, for instance as a waterbird or songbird flyway, and we are keen to ensure that its use by wildlife is fully understood in order that the level of risk it poses to wildlife can be fully assessed.

The implications of the wind park on these birds and these sites needs to be fully assessed. 

 Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus, adult flying low over the water of an evening, Isles of Scilly

Our position

We welcome RWE's constructive pre-application dialogue and extensive survey work, which has found large numbers of seabirds in and around the Atlantic Array zone throughout the year.

Their assessment, submitted with their application, concludes that the main risks to birds of collision and displacement are low, and that the proposal would not have a significant effect on any bird population or local protected breeding colony. If reliable, this is very welcome news, and we accept that for most species the risks presented by the proposal appear to be low.  

However, there are very important seabird breeding colonies within foraging range of the Atlantic Array zone, including Lundy with its rapidly increasing Manx shearwater population following the rat eradication programme, and the internationally important islands of Skomer and Skokholm. We are concerned that some of RWE's assessment work is not as precautionary or as robust as it needs to be to give confidence that the proposal would avoid significant risks to birdlife.

Additionally, the proposal does not currently include post-construction monitoring of the proposal’s wildlife impacts. We believe that, should the application be granted consent, a targeted programme of post-construction monitoring will be needed to measure actual effects against those predicted, in order to trigger contingency action should actual wildlife impacts prove significant, and to inform the assessment of future offshore windfarm applications.  

We have therefore made a 'relevant representation' in order to register as an interested party in the Examination process, and to participate in the consenting process to secure the reassurances that we consider are necessary. Our representation (required to be less than 500 words) can be viewed as a download opposite.   

Timeline

 

  • November 2013
    The proponent, RWE Innogy, withdrew its application on the basis of technological challenges and market conditions.
  • Late 2012
    Wind Farm application submission to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (or its successor)

  • Mid 2012
    Formal consultation with statutory bodies on the Atlantic Array wind farm
  • 2011
    Formal pre-application public consultation on the Atlantic Array wind farm
  • 2010
    Scoping report submission
  • March 2009
    RWE npower renewables submits a bid to The Crown Estate under this third licensing round for UK offshore wind farms. The bid is successful
  • June 2008
    The Crown Estate launched its Round 3 leasing programme for the delivery of up to 25 gigawatts (GW) of new generation capacity from offshore wind by 2020.

Outcome

In November 2013 the proponent, RWE Innogy, withdrew its application on the basis of technological challenges and market conditions.

Download

Letter sent from RSPB to RWE Npower Renewables Ltd in response to consultation on Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm. PDF, 688kb

RSPB comments on Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm Informal Public Consultation