Thanet Extension Offshore Wind Farm

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.

Thanet Extension Offshore Wind Farm

Received 12 September 2018
From Winckworth Sherwood LLP on behalf of Port of London Authority

Representation

The Port of London Authority (“PLA”) is the statutory port and harbour authority for the tidal River Thames. The PLA is concerned about the proposals to extend the existing Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, which is located in the Thames Estuary in the approaches to the Port, due to their potential impact on the safety of maritime operations in one of the busiest parts of UK coastal waters.

Whilst the proposals are outside the PLA’s statutory limits, they are in close proximity to the PLA’s pilot boarding locations, with that at the North East Spit most affected, and, moreover, the proposals have the potential to impact on the operation of the Port. The proposals would encroach into the existing shipping lanes, lengthening journey times into the Port for commercial services that would have to re-route around an extended wind farm.

The existing wind farm already presents challenges to pilot operations, especially during busy times and strong winds, causing delays to vessel arrivals within the Port; these challenges would be exacerbated by the proposed extension. The PLA considers that any extension to the west of the existing wind farm will increase significantly the risks to navigation for all types of vessels, especially those using the North East Spit Pilot Boarding and Landing Area to enter or depart the Thames Estuary. The proposals would force more vessels to use the outer Tongue Pilot boarding station, which would itself be pushed further from the shore, adding significant costs to the service by lengthening the pilotage act, necessitating additional vessels, fuel and crews. This would also make the Port less resilient in bad weather, as pilots would be less able to board in heavy seas.

The Applicant has recently modified its proposals by decreasing the western extent of the Order limits. However, this does not address the PLA’s concerns regarding the reduction in sea room to the west of the wind farm which will affect the shipping corridor running north west/south east between it and the shore. Even with the modifications, the proposals would push vessels further west towards shallower waters and reduce the width of the sea room in this area by 50%.

The PLA has some concerns about Navigational Risk Assessment including the data used, the validity of specific studies, identification of relevant hazards and impacts, and the validity of the NRA methodology. Other impacts of the proposals in respect of navigational risk include loss of the line of sight where inbound vessels may no longer be visible to outbound vessels, backscatter of lights and possible loss of radar targets.

In addition, the PLA remains concerned about the potential migration of sandwaves into navigable waters between the North East Spit and the shore. The proposals would result in an adverse impact on coastal processes, reducing further the amount of sea room within the navigational channel into the Port.

The PLA seeks protection within the Order against sedimentation of the channels in the approach to the Port and for measures to minimise navigational risk.