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UK Goverment’s Growth Plan to Bring Pipeline Accelerations for OWFs

ABL Group’s renewables managing director John MacAskill spoke to Riviera this week about the announced plans from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to increase the speed with which the UK’s offshore wind projects are being developed.

MacAskill stated that the UK planning system for offshore wind needs improving if the government is to deliver on its target of 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

John McAskill
John Macaskill

Speaking on fracking and modular nuclear reactors, MacAskill called these measures dead ends. What the UK actually needs to do, he suggested, is “accelerate and increase the diameter of the planning system ‘pipe’ for offshore wind.

“With circa 20 GW of the 50 GW not yet consented, for there to be a chance these projects are operating by 2030, they will need consent by the middle of the decade.

“Definitive action to reduce the burden of environmental assessments – without abandoning the ecological duty of care – is vital, as is the ability to make changes to a DCO to reflect the evolution of technology in what is a fast-moving sector. I would worry about ripping up or ‘reforming’ habitats and species regulations. Achieving net zero should not come with an ecological cost, not if we can help it.”

MacAskill said he hopes the government understands it also needs to increase budgets at the agencies that handle the planning and environmental processes. “Streamlining alone won’t solve this, additional resources are needed,” he said. “I hope there is real follow through from the Plan. The government could have stormy water to navigate in the next 12 months and I would hate to see the changes proposed in the Growth Plan slip down its list of priorities. So to some extent, the jury is really out on how effective all this will be.”

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