Hornsea Three offshore wind farm approved by government - despite RSPB claiming damage to Flamborough and Filey seabird colonies could be 'irreversible'

The government has given planning permission for the construction of the Hornsea Three offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

Flamborough Head

The development proposal was first submitted to the HM Planning Inspectorate for consideration in 2018 and was today recommended for approval (December 31).

However, the RSPB has already released a statement in which they say the wind farm will have a detrimental impact on seabird populations in areas such as Flamborough Head and the charity's Bempton Cliffs nature reserve on the Yorkshire coast.

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Danish energy company Orsted acquired the rights to the Hornsea Zone in 2015. Hornsea One became operational in 2020 and Hornsea Two is currently under construction and due for completion in 2022.

Puffins at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

The third wind farm could eventually supply electricity to two million households, and there are also plans for Hornsea Four.

The RSPB's global conservation director Martin Harper said the government's decision could threaten the welfare of species such as kittiwake, a type of gull which is in decline.

He said: "Today's decision is nothing short of a gamble with the future of our globally important kittiwakes. The government has accepted that the expansion of offshore wind farms in this part of the North Sea will be damaging to seabird numbers in the surrounding area and is putting its faith in an unproven compensation scheme that will attempt to balance the loss of seabirds at one site with encouraging numbers elsewhere.

"It may be a decade or more by the time we know if it has been successful, by which time Hornsea Three and many more projects may have been constructed and the damage to our seabird colonies at Flamborough Head and the Filey Coast Special Protection Area could be irreversible.

"Industry alone cannot reconcile the challenge of increased deployment and threats to nature. These are a symptom of poor planning and must be urgently addressed by the government if they are to deliver on their ambitious targets for offshore wind."

Orsted has set up a base for its east coast operations in Grimsby and has recruited technicians locally - promising around 400 new offshore jobs.

When they advertised 23 roles on Hornsea Two earlier this year, over 1,200 people applied.

HM Planning Inspectorate said in a statement: "Following a six-month examination during which the public, statutory consultees and interested parties were given the opportunity to give evidence to the Examining Authority, a recommendation was made to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July 2019.

"Following a request for further information and comments from interested parties, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy issued a letter stating that he was minded to approve this application subject to further information from the applicant and interested parties on a number of specific issues.

"To allow time for the applicant to submit further information by 30 September 2020 and to allow for consultation on the further information with interested parties, the Secretary of State set a new deadline of 31 December 2020 for his decision on this application."

Chief executive Sarah Richards added: "When examining the application and making their recommendation, the Examining Authority took full account of views from communities, particularly those near the north east coast of England who might be affected by this proposal, alongside national policy and evidence of the need for the project."