Labour to end ‘absurd’ restriction on windfarms; Rampion 2 examination continues in Sussex

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The new Labour government has made its feelings clear against the de facto ban on new onshore windfarms.

The chancellor, Rachel Reeves, announced in a speech on Monday (July 8) that she would end the ‘absurd’ restriction on new windfarms and said decisions should be taken nationally, not locally.

Due to previous restrictions, only two onshore wind turbines have been built in England in almost a decade – including in Sussex – with projects in the pipeline shrinking by 90 per cent.

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The Rampion Offshore Wind Farm off the Sussex coast is now generating enough green electricity to power the equivalent of around 350,000 UK homes. This is equal to almost half of the homes in Sussex.

The Rampion offshore wind farm. Picture by Eddie MitchellThe Rampion offshore wind farm. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
The Rampion offshore wind farm. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

The wind farm comprises 116 turbines on a 70 square kilometre site located between 13 and 20 kilometres off the Sussex coast in the English Channel.

Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband said: "Every family has paid the price of the ban on onshore wind farms in higher energy bills. This ban has undermined our energy security, put costs on people’s bills – especially those on lower incomes – and held us back in our fight against climate change.

“This Government is wasting no time in delivering the bold plan we need to take back control of our energy; boosting our energy independence and cutting bills for families as we tackle the climate crisis.

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“Getting rid of this ban and giving priority for planning permission for much needed infrastructure sends an immediate signal to investors here and around the world that the UK is back in business, an immediate step in our mission to make Britain a clean energy superpower.

“The government will make sure energy projects are prioritised in the planning system and consult on including onshore wind power developments in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) planning regime.

“Further details on ending the de facto ban on onshore wind will be set out later by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities.”

The ban was caused by two footnotes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – which have now been deleted in their entirety.

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Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner said: “Our country is under new management and a new era for economic growth will be built on secure foundations.

“The Chancellor and I will work in lockstep to kickstart the economy, unleashing housebuilding and powering local growth.

“Change starts now. We will unblock the bottlenecks and drive forward a transformational package to build the homes people need.”

In 2019, the Crown Estate confirmed that an application by Rampion Extension Development Limited (RED) for an extension to the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm could go ahead on their land. The project, known as Rampion 2, will have a generating capacity of up to 1,200MW, compared with 400MW for Rampion 1.

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The offshore element of Rampion 2 would include up to 116 wind turbines, with a maximum tip height of 325m above the lowest tide and up to three offshore substations. They would be located within a 270km2 area of search to the west and south east of Rampion 1, together with a small link or ‘bridge’ area between the two areas for cabling.

Cables would be laid on or beneath the seabed between the wind turbines and offshore substations and between the substations themselves. Export cables would be laid to transmit electricity from the offshore substations to the landfall at Climping Beach, near Littlehampton.

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “The DCO application was submitted in August 2023 and accepted by PINS in September 2023.

“Examination of the application will run for six months from 6 February to 6 August 2024, with a decision due in early 2025. If consent is awarded, work would not start until later in 2025 with Rampion 2 fully operational and connected to the grid in 2029/30.”

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Campaign group Protect Coastal Sussex expressed serious concerns over the controversial £3bn project.

Campaigners fear the ‘adverse impacts’ of the wind farm would ‘demonstrably outweigh the benefits’ for both current and future generations of residents and visitors – as well as wider society. They also claimed that there ‘reasonable alternatives’ offer ‘better value for money’.

A spokesperson added: “A silent ecosystem killer, an attempt to save nature by trashing it."

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