We welcomed the opportunity to present to West Sussex County Council’s Scrutiny Committee on Friday about E.ON’s Rampion Offshore Wind Farm
and are pleased to receive their qualified support.
It was also very useful to hear from the members on specific issues which remain of concern.
We will be responding in more detail to some of the issues raised, but we were happy to be able to answer many of them right away, live on webcast, so that interested members of the public could also hear our response.
We are committed to minimising community and environmental impacts along the underground cable route from Brooklands to Bolney substation and will use directional drilling at main river, rail and road crossings, so that they remain unaffected, as well as using a variety of methods to investigate archaeology and protect and sensitive habitats along the route.
We undertook the most extensive consultations we have ever done on any project over the past two years, which went over and above the statutory requirements as we recognised the large and diverse population along the coast and the proposed cable route.
Nonetheless, we are committed to continue to improve our engagement with affected local communities.
We are working with Twineham Parish Council to create a Local Liaison Group specific to the Twineham area, where we will be building the substation to plug power from the wind farm into the National Grid. We will be working with them to minimise long-term visual impact and disruption during construction.
Based on our experience of operating six major offshore wind farms to date (with a seventh now in construction), together with the wind data we have been monitoring from the Rampion met mast, we are confident in our estimates of how much power the wind farm will generate and if anything we have erred on the cautious side.
It would not be in our commercial interest to build a wind farm that did not achieve our conservative estimates, which in this case equate to generating electricity for the annual average equivalent of two-thirds of all the homes in the whole of Sussex and saving 920,000 tonnes of CO2 each year for the lifetime of the project.
We were grateful to be able to communicate the broader benefits of the Rampion proposal in terms of creating up to 85 full time, permanent jobs and seeking to maximise opportunities for product and service providers in Sussex during the construction period.
We have also committed to develop a Community Benefits Strategy later in the year, which we intend to discuss with our relevant Project Liaison Groups, local authorities and community representatives.
The Rampion application is now due for examination by the Planning Inspectorate over the course of the next six months and we expect a decision to be made by the Secretary of State (DECC) around June 2014.
Development manager of E.ON’s Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, Bank House, Southwick Square, Brighton