Attraction of offshore windfarms increases as opposition mounts

Published: 07/09/2011

Almost half of all planning applications for onshore wind farms are being rejected – increasing the attraction of building wind farms offshore instead.

Figures obtained from the Department of Energy and Climate Change under the Freedom of Information Act show that application rejection rates in England and Wales have risen from 29 per cent in 2005 to 48 per cent in the last five years.

The failure of onshore wind farms to gain support is blamed on a growing influence of anti-wind campaigners and mounting opposition from the local authorities. Developers are concerned that the Localism Bill will worsen the situation as communities will have greater rights to reject development schemes under the Bill.

Andrew Minson, Executive Director of The Concrete Centre said: 'the issues of visual and noise impact are galvanising local communities and councils to try to resist the development of onshore wind farms. The UK is a crowded island and this limits the number of potential sites for onshore windfarms.

'However, being an island significantly increases the potential for offshore wind farm sites and, therefore, the avoidance of planning conflicts between the local community and developer.'

The concrete sector is currently developing solutions for deep water offshore wind farms and has recently set up a Working Group to work with wind farm developers, engineers and contractors to forward the benefits of concrete gravity foundations.

Concrete gravity foundations offer particular advantages for deep water offshore locations of between 20 metres and 60 metres depth. Including robustness, dynamic performance and flexibility, minimum maintenance and whole life cost efficiencies.

Meanwhile, the use of established flotation techniques for gravity foundations avoids the potentially complex decommissioning processes and environmental issues associated with driven piles in the sea bed. Onshore construction provides certainty of programme as potential weather delays are minimised whilst the development of innovative placement techniques eases the installation process and minimises the use of expensive heavy lifting equipment.

'The increased problems of trying to obtain planning permission for onshore wind farms means that offshore, despite the increased costs and the impact of adverse weather, will become a more attractive option' said Minson.

'This attractiveness will grow as the concrete sector works with the renewable industry to further increase the cost efficiencies and buildability of offshore wind farms.'

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