UK: E.ON scales back Rampion offshore wind proposal

E.ON has reduced the footprint of its proposed Rampion offshore wind farm off the south coast of the UK, in an effort to appease local concerns about the visual impact of the project.

E.ON has worked to reduce the wind farm area by almost a quarter of the area consulted upon and to around half that originally awarded by The Crown Estate in the UK’s third bidding round of offshore licences. This has been achieved by removing an area to the southeast of the site, reducing the proportion of the wind farm visible from the Heritage Coast by over 35%.

This change has also led to a reduction in the maximum number of proposed turbines by 20, meaning the project could feature between 100 and 175 turbines depending on the model selected. The site could still accommodate an installed electrical capacity of up to 700MW.

The proposals were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on Friday.

The decision comes as a result of E.ON’s community consultation, which has been in progress for the past year, and received feedback from over 1,000 people and organisations.

The final plans will be publicly available once the Planning Inspectorate has carried out checks on the application in the new year, when the public will be able to access the application documents and submit any comments they may have on the final proposals to the Inspectorate.

Chris Tomlinson, E.ON development manager for the project, said: "Having considered [the] feedback and taken on board [community] views, we've made some significant changes to improve our proposals that will reduce the impact on the local community, while maintaining a project capable of generating electricity for the needs of two thirds of the homes in Sussex."

The main concerns highlighted through the consultation were the visual impact of the wind farm from the Sussex Heritage Coast, the impact on fishermen and sea users and the impact of the onshore cable route on the South Downs National Park.

In response to concerns of the impact on the South Downs National Park, E.ON has put forward a number of solutions.

These include a ducted method of cable installation to reduce the time required for trenching and restoration, tailored construction to reduce the impact on the chalk grasslands at Tottington Mount and a commitment to communicate with users, informing them of the impact on public rights of way.

Following concerns raised about semi natural ancient woodland outside the National Park, minor realignments of the cable route have been introduced to avoid ecologically sensitive areas.

E.ON has also undertaken further engineering work, resulting in a reduction in the maximum number of gravity base foundations that may be required. This will limit the impact on wave heights to around 3%, compared to the potential 22% featured in the original proposals.

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