UK Planning Inspectorate Begins Examination of RWE’s Offshore Wind Farm Extension

The UK Planning Inspectorate has moved RWE’s application for the Awel y Môr offshore wind farm from the pre-examination to public examination phase, a step away from the decision on whether to grant the project development consent.

Awel y Môr, located offshore North Wales, to the west of the existing Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, is one of the seven extension projects awarded a seabed lease agreement by The Crown Estate back in 2020.

In September 2021, the developer RWE and its partners published the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) for the project and submitted an application for the Development Consent Order (DCO) at the beginning of this year.

This May, the Planning Inspectorate accepted proposals for the development of the 500 MW offshore wind farm, thus putting the project into the pre-examination phase of the consenting process before a public examination.

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Now in the public examination stage, the project will undergo several hearings that started with a plenary meeting on 20 September, before the first hearings were held on 21 and 22 September.

This phase at the Planning Inspectorate will last for six months, until the end of March 2023, with the final decision on consent expected to be made in the second quarter of next year.

The final DCO decision rests with the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

As the project lies in Welsh waters, a Marine License is also required from Welsh Government through Natural Resources Wales, to which RWE submitted an application on 30 May.

The Awel y Môr offshore wind farm’s site is located approximately 10.5 kilometres off the coast of north Wales, with the landfall point for its grid connection planned between Rhyl and Prestatyn.

If approved, the wind farm could provide power for up to 500,000 homes, according to RWE, which is developing the project together with Stadtwerke München (30 per cent) and Siemens Financial Services (10 per cent).

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Photo: Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm. Source: RWE