The next stage of RWE’s consultation on their plans to expand the Rampion Offshore Windfarm off the Sussex coast is now live and will run until the Thursday 16 September 2021.
What is Rampion 2?
Rampion 2 is a proposed expansion of the existing Rampion offshore wind farm (Rampion 1) located in the English Channel off the Sussex coast. RWE, the developers, want to extend the wind farm to help meet the UK Government’s target for offshore wind of 40 Gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by the end of this decade. This equates to a quadrupling of offshore wind capacity from around 10GW in 2020, to 40GW by 2030.
What is this consultation about?
The process of getting consent for the expansion is very long. There has already been one informal consultation in 2020. This is the next step with RWE asking people to express their views and contribute to the evolving design of the Rampion 2 project. In particular, the project team have completed a Preliminary Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) which sets out the initial findings of all the work RWE are doing to assess impacts on the environment and local communities.
This is a really important opportunity for everyone to give their views about the Rampion 2 proposals and influence the final proposals which will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in 2022. RWE are particularly looking for feedback on:
- The preliminary assessment of the onshore and offshore environmental, community and economic impacts and proposed mitigation measures to avoid or reduce impacts;
- Their early thinking on building the project and the measures they plan to put in place to minimise the impacts of construction on local communities;
- The merits or disbenefits of substation and cable route alignment proposals where there are options being considered.
How do I get involved?
RWE have set up a website that contains all the information you need to understand the proposals and have your say. They are also running a number of virtual project presentations with members of their project team which you can sign up to attend.
What does Sussex Wildlife Trust think?
The Sussex Wildlife Trust supports action to tackle climate change, as we recognise that climate change poses one of the biggest threats to wildlife. However, such a big infrastructure project inevitably poses risks to wildlife, so we are working to understand what these risks might be and whether we think these risks can be avoided or minimised.
Sussex Wildlife Trust will be looking at all the evidence presented for both onshore (on land) and offshore (at sea) ecology. We absolutely want any valuable sites and habitats for wildlife to be avoided. We also want to see that lessons have been learned from the implementation of Rampion 1 and other windfarm projects, to make sure that any habitat restoration or creation is as effective as possible. Rampion 2 is Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, so there is currently no policy requirement for the project to deliver net gains to biodiversity i.e. leave wildlife in a better state then it was before the development. However, the Sussex Wildlife Trust would still like to see net gains as we think this is best practice and what is needed given the ecological emergency we are all facing.
At sea, we have particular concern over the potential proximity to two designated Marine Conservation Zones (Kingmere and Offshore Overfalls) and the effect the construction may have on the protected features of these sites. Moreover, we want to see RWE consider the cumulative effects of construction and other pre-existing pressures, such as nearby areas of aggregate dredging. Although the protected areas stand out, we will also be looking at whether important and fragile habitats that sit outside of protected areas are given due consideration, notably chalk reef and nesting sites of Black Seabream.
As offshore wind developments are accelerating nationally, The Wildlife Trusts are working collaboratively with us so that we can make appropriate representation on a local and national level, applying the local knowledge as well as more universal expertise on offshore wind.