Concern over impact of Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm on seabirds | Wind power
A major new wind farm project that will power millions of homes is expected to be approved on Friday, but environmentalists fear for the safety of endangered birds in the region.
The Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm is set to get the green light from the government, the Guardian can reveal.
The wind farm is said to be backed by Boris Johnson, who government sources say is so keen on the project that he introduces himself as “Boreas Johnson” in meetings about it. The source from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) claimed that Johnson was very enthusiastic about the project because of his love for Greek mythology – Boreas was the ancient Greek god of the north wind . The Prime Minister is said to be hoping it will be a flagship green energy project that could make Britain “the Saudi Arabia of wind power.”
Wind farms planned for the Norfolk coast – Boreas and another project, Vanguard – are expected to be able to power 10% of UK homes – around 3.9 million UK homes. Wind power contributed 24.8% of UK electricity supplied in 2020, after overtaking coal in 2016 and nuclear in 2018. To meet a net zero commitment in 2030, more wind farms need to be built, because it is currently the UK’s largest source of renewable energy. .
However, the north Norfolk coast is home to some of Britain’s most important colonies of endangered seabirds, including kittiwakes, northern gannets and sea gulls. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is concerned that the blades could kill the birds. On top of that, the project involves disturbing the area where the birds feed and making it more difficult for them to travel from the ocean to their nests. If it takes too long for the birds to return to their young, the chicks may starve.
An RSPB source said the site is struggling due to the number of rare birds that feed, travel and nest in the area. “At the end of the day, we have to move away from sites with inevitable problems. What is in the Crown’s domain gift, because the seabed belongs to the Queen, ”he said.
“We are very concerned about the cumulative impact of all these wind turbines in the same space. Secretary of State has “agreed” that other wind farms will impact seabirds in this region (some globally significant colonies for Kittiwakes and others) – and proposed mitigation methods haven’t been tried or tested, so it could be over a decade before we know it. if they are successful, when will the damage have been done to the colony.
A BEIS spokesperson confirmed that the wind farm would need to be approved.
The wind farm, which is to be built by Swedish company Vattenfall, has also been the subject of complaints from residents of Norfolk, who say the extensive wiring needed to build the project would disrupt their homes. Some 85 parish councils have written to BEIS to express their opposition to the projects.
The Vanguard Project was recently blocked by the High Court after a resident argued that the joint impact of Vanguard and Boreas would be too disruptive for his home and the Secretary of State failed to take into account the effect of both. The request must now return to the government for reassessment, according to the Planning Inspectorate.
Vattenfall said in a statement: “Offshore wind will be the backbone of our energy system as we tackle climate change. By 2050, it is estimated that renewables will supply 80% of our electricity needs, much of which will have to come from offshore wind farms.
“Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas are part of the next generation of wind farms. By working with communities, supply chain, skills and environmental experts, we’ve designed projects that can deliver real, lasting benefits – in Norfolk and in the UK.
“These wind farms will provide £ 15million in funding to local communities and will be in place over the 25 year life of the wind farms. This is the largest funding commitment to Norfolk by an offshore wind company to date. “
He maintains that biodiversity is at the forefront of its plans: “Each wind farm has its own tailor-made habitat monitoring and management plan, developed throughout the planning process with input from expert groups.
“This work is constantly improving our understanding of how wildlife and habitats respond to and adapt to wind farms, and helps inform our research programs.”