SSE and RWE Tweak North Falls Project Following Public Input, DCO Application Now Expected in 2024

RWE and SSE Renewables have made a number of changes to the North Falls offshore wind project in the UK, a proposed extension to the existing 504 MW Greater Gabbard, whose implementation will likely move the planned date for filing a development consent order (DCO) application into 2024. The most significant changes to the project plans include removing the northern array area and reducing the number and height of wind turbines.

Revised map of the North Falls project without the northern array; Image courtesy of North Falls Offshore Wind Farm Limited

The developers are tweaking the project following a review of the feedback received from the North Falls statutory consultation held during the summer.

Initially, North Falls comprised two offshore array areas totalling 150 square kilometres and will now have a single array occupying 95 square kilometres. This also moves the wind farm farther offshore, with its closest point to shore now being 42 kilometres, 20 kilometres farther out at sea than proposed originally.

Removing the northern array area will reduce the project’s offshore footprint, alleviating concerns from the shipping sector and reducing the impact on birds, according to the North Falls Offshore Wind Farm Limited, the joint venture company owned 50/50 by SSE and RWE. Furthermore, with North Falls now planned to be farther away from shore, there will be a significant difference in what will be visible, particularly from the Suffolk coast, the developers said.

The number of wind turbines has been cut from 72 to 57 and the joint venture also agreed to implement the feedback received on the wind turbine height, which will be reduced by 20 metres, from 397 metres to 377 metres.

Further changes include closer working with the adjacent Five Estuaries offshore wind project, being developed by a consortium led by RWE, and continuing with an offshore grid connection option as part of its proposals, as well as several actions related to the project’s onshore infrastructure and activities.

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The next steps for North Falls will be to progress its Environmental Statement and other documents, including the Planning Statement and Consultation Report, in preparation for filing the application to the UK Planning Inspectorate.

According to the developers, to fully implement the changes to the project will require additional efforts related to technical and engineering design, consultation and planning, and research – which means the date the project intends to submit its development consent order (DCO) application is under review and is likely to move into 2024.


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