The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.
Hornsea Project Three Offshore Wind Farm
From Brown & Co on behalf of Mr Richard Youngs
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE ORSTED (HORNSEA PROJECT THREE OFFSHORE WIND FARM PROJECT)
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE NATIONAL FARMERS UNION AND THE HORNSEA THREE AGENTS KNOWN AS THE LAND INTEREST GROUP
1.1 These are the Outline Representations of the National Farmers Union (“NFU”) and the Hornsea Three Agents (agents acting for NFU members and their clients on this project) to the application for a Development Consent Order by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government identified as the Hornsea Project Three Offshore Wind Farm Project order. The agents representing the landowners/occupiers are Savills, Strutt & Parker, Bidwells, Irelands, Brown & Co and Cruso & Wilkin (henceforth known as the Land Interest Group (LIG)).
1.2 The objectives of the NFU are to champion farming in England and Wales and to provide professional representation and service to its members.
1.3 The matters raised in these Outline Representations are matters not only of concern to the farming owners of agricultural land affected by this DCO, but also of concern to, and raise points of principle that will affect, members of the NFU having farm holdings that may be affected by similar Offshore Wind Farm schemes.
2. Consultation and Engagement
2.1 There has been a lack of constructive and proactive face to face meetings with Orsted and their agents. Some meetings have been held but the detail required by landowners has not been available. For example details on timings of construction to be able to understand the impact on the cropping rotation of the farm or the commercial shoot over the winter months. Therefore it has not been possible to discuss all aspects of the scheme.
2.2 Orsted and their agents have been meeting LIG but due to the lack of specific information there has been no progression in negotiations in the last two months over June and July 2018.
2.3 Heads of terms were sent out on the 20th April 2018 which do not at the present time contain the specific detail for the scheme. Further specific detail has been requested from Orsted at the last meeting held on 9th July 2018.
2.4 Orsted have still not sent out a draft option and lease to the agents or landowners after many requests to see these documents. It is imperative that the NFU and agents acting (LIG) see these documents to make sure that the terms are reasonable. The time period where incentive payments are offered must be long enough for LIG to look at the terms offered in detail and negotiate. Orsted must not force the hand of landowners.
3.0 Compulsory Acquisition and Compelling Case Requirement
3.1 The DCO will contain powers to acquire compulsorily so much of the Order land as is required for the authorised development, or to facilitate, or is incidental to it.
3.2 Further, the guidance as to negotiations either before or parallel with formal processes may well give rise to a "legitimate expectation" that such will occur, and a failure to conduct such negotiations deprives landowners of the benefit that negotiations may have brought, especially in relation to where different locations and lesser rights might have been achieved.
3.3 The NFU and the land agents LIG believe that no meaningful negotiations have taken place alongside the formal procedures for compulsory purchase. Therefore a compelling case cannot be made.
4.0 HVAC v HVDC Cables
4.1 It was made clear at the statutory consultation carried out at the end of November 2017 that Orsted would be applying for a DCO on both HVAC and HVDC cables. This will involve building a booster station or converter substation.
4.2 It has been highlighted that the use of DC technology for offshore windfarms is still maturing and that there are certain risks by only taking forward DC technology. If Orsted could confirm that they are taking forward DC technology this would greatly reduce the impact on land operations and farm businesses as the width of the lease area required will be less and it is likely that no link boxes will be required. Landowners and their agents have been asking for information from Orsted to confirm why they cannot use DC technology and the only reasons forthcoming have been cost, risk and the length of the scheme. There is confusion out there with landowners as another developer Vattenfall who are also proposing a NSIP project the Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas Cable Project have confirmed that they will be using DC technology.
5. Booster Station
5.1 LIG would like further clarification as to why the proposed Booster station is not being built on a brown field site? Whilst the cost of this may be greater for Orsted there would be significantly less impact on farmers and their agricultural businesses.
6. Construction and Funding
6.1 Orsted have stated that they will need at least 8 years to lay all the cables and that this would be carried out in two phases. Construction works of two phases of two and half years with a three year gap in between. If the project was constructed in one phase with high intensity it has been stated that it would be possible to do this with a minimum duration of three years. Two of the reasons given for a two phase programme are constraints in the supply chain and/or the timing of auctions for the Government’s Contract for Difference process which offshore wind farms currently rely on to secure a price for the electricity produced by a project. Therefore Orsted are indicating that they do not have the necessary funding to build the project at the present time in one phase. We have grave concerns that Orsted do not have the funding to deliver the second proposed phase of the project and so should not be applying for this phase of the project within this current DCO application.
6.2 The project involves laying 6 large cables over a width of 60 metres along some of the most productive Grade 1, 2 and 3a land classification farmland in Norfolk. The cables will be buried so most farming operations can take place on top of them and we believe that this will be a minimum depth of 1.2m.
6.3 At the present time Orsted have not been able to confirm whether they will be ducting the cables and that their preference is to just lay the cables in open trenches. If the cables were in ducts this would enable Orsted to lay the ducts during the first phase for the whole project.
7. Cumulative Impact
7.1 Cumulative Affect Assessment has been addressed in the PEIR but the detail is exceedingly broad with no mention of the Vattenfall Boreas scheme only Norfolk Vanguard. These are two major schemes affecting landowners and occupiers in Norfolk which are programmed to be constructed at approximately the same time but one is running north to south (Hornsea 3) and the other east to west (Vattenfall) across the county, therefore greatly affecting the number of landowners affected and taking more land out of agricultural production than is necessary.
8. Jointing bays and Link Boxes
8.1 It is understood from other projects that ‘Jointing Bays’ should be all underground and will not interfere with agricultural operations.
8.2 It is understood that link boxes will be needed if the cables are HVAC cables and they are normally placed at least every 600 to 800 metres on a cable run near to the jointing bays. No clarification has been received on how many link boxes will be needed at the end of every run. Link boxes do stand proud above ground level and so greatly interfere with agricultural operations and are a hazard to farm machinery. It is extremely important to have further design information on link boxes and the siting of them. This includes any link boxes to be located in a cluster and how will they be marked/identified/fenced. The preference is that all link boxes are located within fence boundaries.
9. Field Drainage
9.1 Land drainage is one of the main issues which landowners and occupiers are concerned about on this scheme and some detail has been agreed in the heads of terms but it is not satisfactory.
9.2 To date insufficient detail has been received by LIG on behalf of their clients and members in regard to how reinstatement of field drainage will take place.
9.3 No information has been provided on how field drainage will be reinstated in the documents as part of the DCO application. As no draft Option and Lease has been made available it has not been possible to see whether drainage reinstatement is covered satisfactorily in the proposed option and deed.
10.1 As above the treatment and reinstatement of soil during and after construction is one of the main issues of concern. Limited detail has been provided to landowners and occupiers. Again LIG does not know how soil reinstatement and aftercare will be dealt with in the Option and Lease. Furthermore no measures have been set out after soil has been reinstated. What measures will be put in place to bring the soil back to its condition and quality before the works took place? An aftercare plan should be included in a code of construction.
11. Flood Issues
11.1 No details have been provided to landowners and occupiers on how any increase in surface run off of water from the haul road or the construction compounds will be dealt with during construction. Therefore there is concern that retained land may flood during the construction works.
12.1 Clarification is needed on how practical issues like dust will be controlled during construction and how can the effect on irrigation be minimised?
13. Access routes to the Order Limits
13.1 At the present time Orsted has provided no detail in regard to how it is proposing to gain access to the order limits. There is a question over whether access may be needed along private access roads and/or to create access.
14. Access to land and the Haul Road
14.1 Insufficient detail has been provided as to how landowners and occupiers are to access land severed by the construction works and as to whether landowners will be able to access the haul road during construction. Furthermore no detail has been provided on how the haul road may be constructed and if it is possible to use tracking for the haul road which can be laid on the surface of the land and taken up. No specific detail has been given on the time the haul road will be down for severing land. If it is down for the full construction period of 8 years this is unacceptable interference.
15. Request to Attend Hearings and make Representations
15.1 The NFU and the Hornsea Three Agents known as LIG intends to lodge full Written Representations in due course and request to make oral representations at the compulsory acquisition hearing or any other hearings which may be held.
15.2 NFU and LIG represents approximately 50 members/clients who own or lease land affected by the DCO. A full list of names and addresses are available if requested. The members and clients have not been listed on this representation due to data protection. Each landowner or occupier has submitted an outline representation highlighting specific issues to the individual business, if appropriate, and has made reference to this outline representation which highlights the main issues of all landowners concerned.