Wind Farm Expansion Halted in UK

Threatened birds halt wind farm expansion: Plan to add 65 turbines at world’s biggest offshore site abandoned because of risk to red-throated diver

By Ben Spencer

PUBLISHED: 20:17 GMT, 19 February 2014 | UPDATED: 00:49 GMT, 20 February 2014

The expansion of a huge wind farm in the Thames Estuary was abandoned yesterday because of concerns about the impact on birds.

Developers of the London Array, already the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, said they would not add a further 65 turbines.

The red-throated diver, a small bird that spends winter in the estuary, was a stumbling block, they said.

Plans to add 65 turbines to the London Array in the Thames Estuary have been scrapped after the planning agency asked for a report on the impact to a migratory bird
Plans to add 65 turbines to the London Array in the Thames Estuary have been scrapped after the planning agency asked for a report on the impact to a migratory bird

Planning rules require an assessment of the impact on the bird, which developers said would take too long.

• Ed Miliband’s wife loses Court of Appeal battle to build a wind farm on Duke of Gloucester’s ‘unspoilt’ Elizabethan estate
• World’s largest solar farm is SCORCHING BIRDS that fly over it

The announcement is a blow to the Coalition’s green ambitions.


• The red-throated diver is a migratory bird that spends winter on the UK’s east coast.
•It is the smallest of the British divers, with a grey-brown plumage and a white throat which turns red in the spring.
•The species, which is in decline, jumps up to dive and can stay underwater for a minute and a half.
•It flies north each spring to the Scottish islands of Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, where it stays for breeding season – the only time of year it ventures ashore.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has trumpeted Britain as world leader for offshore wind, but that status was last night starting to look in doubt.

The London Array is the fifth offshore project to be scrapped or cut back in three months.

The 300-turbine Argyll Array was cancelled in December and the Atlantic Array, due to build 240 off the North Devon coast was abandoned in November.

Plans for two farms off the Lincolnshire coast have been scaled back – a loss of 350 turbines. Together, the abandoned proposals would have provided enough energy to power four million homes.

London Array’s first phase created 175 turbines off the Kent coast last year, costing £1.8billion. The second phase would have added 65 turbines.

But yesterday the project consortium, three firms in Denmark, Germany and Abu Dhabi, said it would take three years to collect data about the diver’s habitat.

Mike O’Hare, of London Array, said there was ‘no guarantee … that we will be able to satisfy the authorities that any impact on the birds would be acceptable’.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the planning system had to ‘have the interest of protecting the environment’.

Nick Medic, of trade body Renewable UK, said Britain was still the ‘global lead’ on wind farms, but that this was despite the Government’s ‘mixed messaging’ on renewable energy.

But in a swipe at the Government’s reduction of green subsidies, he added: ‘All this has been achieved despite the uncertainty caused by electricity market reform and mixed messaging from some parts of Government on its support for the deployment of renewable energy.’

The red-throated diver is native to Scotland, Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides but spends the winter living in the Thames Estuary
Despite the setback, the Government insisted the number of turbines will increase from just over 1,000 today to as many as 3,000 by 2020.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said: ‘The UK is the world leader in offshore wind – with more deployed than any other country, and a framework in place to retain our global lead.

‘The benefits that offshore wind can bring are clear – as costs fall it can enhance our long-term energy security, reduce our dependence on imports and help reduce our carbon emissions.’ The RSPB said it had raised concerns about the London Array.

Harry Huyton, head of energy policy at the charity, said: ‘We believe that renewable energy – like every other industry – must be developed in harmony with the natural environment.

‘Critical to this is avoiding damaging developments in sites that are particularly special for nature.

‘The area around the Thames Estuary is one such site. It is internationally important for wildlife, and supports 38 per cent of the UK wintering population of red-throated divers, so it is vital that any development in this area is planned sensitively.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s