The government has delayed the planning process for a major new windfarm off the Norfolk coast because of the coronavirus lockdown, with its developer to warning the move could “send the wrong signal” to the renewables industry.
The Swedish energy company Vattenfall said delaying a decision on the 1.8GW Norfolk Boreas windfarm by up to five months was “regrettable” and might call Britain’s green ambitions into question.
The government’s planning authority said the pandemic has meant several hearings have been delayed, and a number of interested parties have been unable to participate.
The business secretary, Alok Sharma, agreed earlier this week to allow the planning inspectorate to extend its deadline for a decision until 12 October, and called on the authority to “make best efforts” to complete the process as soon as possible.

The inspectorate promised to hold “virtual events” to allow interested parties to participate remotely.
The delay comes amid an increase in calls from energy economists, business groups and energy companies for the UK to commit to a green economic recovery after the coronavirus crisis.
Graham Davey, the project manager for the Norfolk Boreas windfarm, said: “While it’s understandable that some delay to the examination process is inevitable due to the Covid-19 restrictions, adding up to five months to the timetable is regrettable.” .
Vattenfall plans to build the Norfolk Boreas alongside a twin windfarm project, the Norfolk Vanguard, to add 3.6 GW of clean energy capacity to its UK renewables portfolio, enough to power 3.9m UK homes.
“In our view, all of the substantive issues in the process have already been resolved. Yet we’re now in a position where potentially the final consent decision may not be known until April next year,” Davey said.

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