A new seabed leasing round in the UK could see a release of circa 6GW of offshore wind rights, the UK's seabed manager, The Crown Estate, said during recent industry and stakeholder engagement sessions in London.
If confirmed, a new round of rights could begin in early 2019, maintaining a pipeline of projects through to the late 2020s and beyond, The Crown Estate said.
This proposal comes after the UK Government’s announcement that it will run clean electricity auctions in 2019, and then every 2 years after that.
Within the proposed leasing model, developers would identify and propose sites within predefined but relatively wide regions of seabed, The Crown Estate said. A leasing process would be open to both existing developers and new entrants.
To support potential developers and help reduce consenting risk, The Crown Estate would look to share new seabed data in advance of a leasing process. This would include a new consent constraint model, to highlight various constraints such as existing infrastructure, environmental designations, and other marine activity. This approach builds on lessons learned from previous leasing rounds.
One of the proposals was also that Plan Level Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) is to be undertaken by The Crown Estate prior to Agreements for Lease being awarded.
“Early engagement with industry and stakeholders is a hugely important part of our work to explore the potential for new offshore wind leasing, helping to build a better understanding of the appetite for additional capacity and inform how a tender process might run. The feedback we receive as part of this process will be vital, as we seek to balance a range of interests on the seabed and decide whether to bring forward additional rights for sustainable development offshore,” Jonny Boston, Senior Development Manager at The Crown Estate, said.
The Crown Estate will consider all the feedback it receives from industry and statutory organisations on the evolving proposals, ahead of a decision being taken on opening a tender process for the award of new offshore wind rights. Ongoing engagement with wider stakeholders will continue in parallel.
A second stage of industry and stakeholder engagement is anticipated to take place this autumn.