There are several proposed wind energy projects taking place offshore, where cables will pass through North Norfolk District to connect to national grid infrastructure. The scale of these projects means they are classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).

Further information on each project, including plans and all submission documents, are on the planning inspectorate website:

Offshore Wind Energy Project Project Capacity Proposed Landfall Location Type of electricity transmission Connection Point to Grid
Ørsted – Hornsea Project Three 2.4GW Weybourne (North Norfolk) HVAC or HVDC Swardeston (South Norfolk)
Vattenfall – Norfolk Vanguard 1.8GW Happisburgh (North Norfolk) HVDC Necton (Breckland)
Vattenfall – Norfolk Boreas 1.8GW Happisburgh (North Norfolk) HVDC Necton (Breckland)
Equinor – Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects 719MW (0.719GW) Weybourne (North Norfolk) HVAC Swardeston (South Norfolk)

National Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) Process

Each of these four projects will have to go through the NSIP process. There are six stages to this process which simplifies the decision-making process for major infrastructure projects, making it fairer and faster for communities and applicants alike.

There is an overview and several short videos on the Planning Inspectorate's website explaining the process.

Summary of the NSIP process

  1. Pre-application
  2. Acceptance
  3. Pre-examination
  4. Examination
  5. Recommendation and decision
  6. Post decision

The current stage of each project is as follows:

Project

Stages of the NSIP Process 

1 2 3 4 5 6

Ørsted - Hornsea Project Three

Vattenfall – Norfolk Vanguard

 

Vattenfall – Norfolk Boreas

 

Equinor - Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects

         

North Norfolk District Council will play an active role in the NSIP process to represent the interests of the district. This includes playing an active role in the examination stage (4) to make sure that issues affecting North Norfolk are identified and addressed as part of any Development Consent Order (DCO) that has been granted.

DCOs usually contain several requirements that the developer must fulfil, in a similar way to planning conditions imposed on a planning permission. North Norfolk District Council has a responsibility to discharge relevant DCO requirements within its area once submitted by the developer.

Pre-application

Before submitting an application, potential applicants have a statutory duty to carry out consultation on their proposals. The length of time taken to prepare and consult on a project will vary depending upon its scale and complexity. Responding to an applicant’s Pre-application consultation is the best time to influence a project, whether you agree with it, disagree with it, or believe it could be improved.

Acceptance

The Acceptance stage begins when an applicant submits an application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate. There follows a period of up to 28 days (excluding the date of receipt of the application) for the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to decide whether or not the application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination.

This will include the Planning Inspectorate writing to the Local Planning Authority inviting the submission of an ‘adequacy of consultation’ representation which the Planning Inspectorate must have regard to in deciding whether or not to accept an application.

Once accepted, all documents are placed on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

Pre-examination

At this stage, the applicant must publicise that the application has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate including details of when and how people can register. The public will be able to register with the Planning Inspectorate to become an Interested Party by making a Relevant Representation. A Relevant Representation is a summary of a person’s views on an application, made in writing. There is a minimum of 28 days for the public to register their status as an interested party.

North Norfolk District Council will need to submit a Relevant Representation setting out a summary of the relevant issues affecting our District.

An Examining Authority is also appointed at the Pre-examination stage, and all Interested Parties will be invited to attend a Preliminary Meeting, run and chaired by the Examining Authority. Although there is no statutory timescale for this stage of the process, it usually takes approximately three months from the Applicant’s formal notification and publicity of an accepted application.

Examination

Starts the day after the close of the Preliminary Meeting. The Planning Inspectorate has up to six months to carry out the examination. During this stage Interested Parties who have registered by making a Relevant Representation are invited to provide more details of their views in writing.

North Norfolk District Council will be invited to submit a Local Impact Report to objectively assess the potential impacts of the scheme and provide evidence about the characteristics of the area.

During the examination process North Norfolk District Council may be required to submit written representations, respond to examination questions and comment on other submissions and may also be invited to hearings and site visits. North Norfolk District Council will be encouraged to work with the applicant and other statutory bodies to produce Statements of Common Ground to set out areas of agreement.

Careful consideration is given by the Examining Authority to all the important and relevant matters including the representations of all Interested Parties, any supporting evidence submitted and answers provided to the Examining Authority’s questions set out in writing or posed at hearings. At hearings, interested parties are entitled to make oral representations about the application.

Recommendation and Decision

The Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report on the application to the relevant Secretary of State, including a recommendation, within three months of the close of the six month Examination stage. The relevant Secretary of State (in case of offshore wind farms this will be the Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). then has a further three months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

Post Decision

Once a decision has been issued by the relevant Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.