UK Delays Development Consent Decision on 2.6 GW Hornsea Four Offshore Wind Farm

The UK’s Planning Inspectorate has delayed a final decision on granting approval for Ørsted’s 2.6 GW Hornsea Four offshore wind farm by nearly five months.


Ørsted submitted a Development Consent Order (DCO) application for Hornsea Four to the UK Planning Inspectorate in September 2021.

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The Examining Authority issued a Recommendation Report related to the project to the Secretary of State on 22 November 2022.

”Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of the receipt of the Examining Authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) of the Act to set a new deadline,” Martin Callanan, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, said in a statement.

The new deadline has now been moved from 22 February to no later than 12 July 2023.

The reason for the delay is said to be to enable the department to ”seek further information from the Applicant and to ensure there is sufficient time to allow for consideration of this information by other interested parties.”

RenewableUK’s Executive Director of Policy Ana Musat said the decision to delay the decision on Hornsea Four was ”particularly disappointing” as it would take the UK longer to meet its renewables targets.

”At a time when countries like the US and the EU are doubling down on attracting clean energy investment through financial incentives and a stable policy framework, the UK cannot afford to create unnecessary hurdles for investors and developers,” Musat said.

Musat has also called on the Government to urgently reform the country’s ”cumbersome planning system” so that needless delays to renewable energy projects are avoided in the future.

”Due to unclear guidance to planning authorities, no offshore wind project wind since 2017 has been recommended for approval by the Planning Inspectorate,” Musat said.

”All 6GW of these projects were delayed until the Secretary of State reviewed them to confirm approval. To meet our 50GW offshore wind target, the UK will need to install 4.5GW of offshore wind a year in the latter half of this decade. A reformed planning system is essential to ensure we can stay ahead in the global race to build vital new clean energy infrastructure.”

Located approximately 69 kilometres off the Yorkshire Coast, Hornsea Four will comprise up to 180 wind turbines spread across an area of up to 492 square kilometres.

It is worth noting that the location of Hornsea Four overlaps with the location where the energy major bp also submitted an application to develop a carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) project.

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Hornsea Four and the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) CCUS project share an area of some 110 square kilometres, deemed the Overlap Zone.

Back in 2013, the parties behind the two projects at the time, Smart Wind Limited behind Hornsea Four and National Grid Twenty Nine Limited behind NEP, agreed to enter into an Interface Agreement to seek to regulate and co-ordinate their activities with a view of managing potential and resolving actual conflicts.

Ørsted said it proposed protective provisions for the benefit of the NEP project in its draft DCO for Hornsea Four, which envisages co-existence in the Overlap Zone, while bp proposed protective provisions also for the benefit of its project, which would prevent the development of Hornsea Four infrastructure in the part of the Overlap Zone in which the carbon storage project would be located, referred to as the Exclusion Area.

Ørsted and bp have not managed to find common ground on the matter so far.


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