Where is the wind farm site and what is the site area?
The offshore wind farm site is located in the English Channel, off the Sussex coast and extends from approximately 13km to 20km offshore, occupying an irregular elongated area, approximately 19km in an east to west direction and approximately 7km in the north to south direction. The site has an overall area of 72km2, reduced from the consented area of 122km2, which in turn was reduced from 167km2 following refinements to the scheme during the consultation and examination process. These refinements were designed to reduce the visual impact from the Heritage Coast, minimise deviation for vessels using the local route from the Traffic Separation Scheme to Shoreham Port and to reduce the impact on commercial fishing.
Where is the construction project-managed from?
The project management facility for construction is located at Newhaven Port. This is due to portside availability, flexibility of space and ease of access to the Rampion site. However, the port also offers continuity throughout construction and into operation as the operations and maintenance base will also be at Newhaven Port.
Will other sea users still be able to use the Rampion sea area or will there be an exclusion zone?
For safety reasons, during construction there would be a 500-metre safety zone placed around the area under construction. The details of the safety zones have been notified to sea users throughout the construction. Once the wind farm is operational, most sea users will be able to continue commercial and recreational use of the sea area as before. However, a limited number of larger commercial vessels may choose not to navigate through the wind farm.
What is the lifetime of the scheme?
The design life of offshore wind turbines is between 20-25 years although the lease we have with The Crown Estate (the landlord of the seabed) extends to 50 years. Therefore, when the turbines are reaching the end of their natural working life, we will decide whether to refurbish the scheme with the same turbines or whether to re-power the site with the latest technology at that point in time.
Jobs, benefits and community
Can I film the wind farm with a drone?
Guidelines for drone usage at or near Rampion Offshore Wind Farm
Safety is always the first issue to consider and it is the drone operators’ responsibility to comply with the Drone Code, as published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Drones must be kept:-
1) at least 150 metres from working vessels and people at site, both offshore and onshore.
2) at least 50m from wind turbines and offshore substation
3) within sight of the operator
If the drone is being operated from a vessel, the vessel itself must stay out of the statutory 500m Safety Zone around construction activities on wind turbines and the offshore substation.
The drone operator will be held responsible for any incident or damage arising from failure to comply with the above.
Planning and consent
Why is Rampion located where it is?
In 2008, nine strategic zones were identified for what is known as 'Round 3', the third licensing round for offshore wind farms. The nine strategic zones were established following a 'Strategic Environmental Assessment', which essentially investigated technological, engineering and environmental issues. These included, for example, water depth, shipping lanes, marine ecology, seabed geology, and wind speed data, which when overlaid onto a chart of UK waters, led to the proposed zones.
Zone 6, the zone from within which the Rampion site was chosen, could not migrate further south due to the Traffic Separation Scheme - the English Channel shipping lane.
How was Round 3 different from the previous rounds?
Instead of the smaller projects from Rounds 1 and 2, which were situated nearer to shore in shallower waters, Round 3 nominated far larger zones designed to accommodate larger wind farms that could benefit from the improved, proven technology following the success of the earlier projects. Larger wind farms offer economies of scale and have enabled the industry to bring the costs of offshore wind down considerably, while maximising the contribution the technology can make to securing UK energy supplies and tackling climate change
How was the actual wind farm site chosen?
E.ON, the developer who secured the licence for Zone 6 from The Crown Estate, conducted further, much more in depth investigations and analyses of the seabed geology, marine ecology, available turbine and foundation technology, grid availability, local stakeholder concerns and so on, in order to formulate draft proposals. Zone 6 is a very complex site from a bathymetry and geological perspective. When coupled with the technology available, stakeholder feedback and engineering and environmental surveys, the scheme was optimized to produce the final design.
Why is Rampion smaller than other Round 3 projects?
In Zone 6, the project evolved to become a single wind farm in the strategic zone and the smallest Round 3 wind farm around the UK, more on a par with a Round 2 project. There were several reasons for this including the fact that there is a cliff face underwater to the south of the final chosen site, as well as much deeper waters and paleochannels (old river beds with silt). The technology required to support turbines in waters up to 62 metres deep was not proven to a sufficient degree to give confidence to expand the design and is also likely that it would have been prohibitively expensive to extend the site.
What consultation was carried out?
The year of 2012 was spent formally consulting the local community. This included the delivery of 390,000 flyers to households in Sussex, advertising in the local press and broadcast media, a poster and leaflet campaign, links to council and neighbourhood websites, a Facebook page, presentations to community groups and emails to 2,500 stakeholder organisations in Sussex. We held 14 public exhibitions with 4,500 people attending and 1,500 written responses, which all fed into the mix as the proposals were continually refined.
In 2013, there were 14 public hearings at the Brighton Centre where those who had commented on the draft plans could raise their concerns. Additional refinements were made in light of feedback received. For example the wind farm was moved further from the Heritage Coast that lies to its east, its boundary was also changed to avoid a popular fishing area known as the '9-miler' and local routes from the TSS to and from Shoreham Port.
Following further site specific engineering surveys and in consideration of stakeholder feedback, the scheme was optimised with its final 116 turbine layout.
When was Rampion awarded consent?
The Secretary of State (the then Department of Energy and Climate Change) awarded and made the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm Order 2014 on 16 July 2014.
What is the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm Order 2014 (the Order)?
The Order is a Statutory Instrument (secondary legislation) that permits the construction and operation of the development, which includes the consented plans and associated requirements and conditions, similar to planning conditions, that must be adhered to during the pre-construction, construction, operation and decommissioning of Rampion.
What are the Order conditions and requirements?
The Order conditions and requirements are similar to conditions placed on a consented application under the Town & Country Planning Act 1991, in that they must be met by the developer and discharged by the Relevant Authority. In the case of Rampion, has produced a number of plans and documents to demonstrate how we will undertake the works, and ensure that impacts are minimised or mitigated. These conditions and Requirements need to be discharged by West Sussex County Council or the South Downs National Park Authority (onshore works) and the Marine Management Organisation (offshore works), and they will ensure that we are undertaking the works in accordance with the plans and methodologies which have been agreed. These plans relate to issues around highways, archaeology, Public Rights of Way and broader environmental considerations such as ecology, landscaping and construction noise management.
Were any other consents required?
The Order provided us with the permission to construct the project, and incorporated the Marine Licences for the offshore works, and effectively negating the need to apply for other consents, as they were deemed to be incorporated into the Order, for example Scheduled Monument consents.
In addition, we applied separately for European Protected Species Licences with regards to works around Great Crested Newts and Marine Mammals and other more minor consents (such as, drainage), and to the Environment Agency for consents for those areas where we cross major watercourses.
What model and how many turbines are you installing and what is the layout?
The final wind farm area will feature 116 x 3.45MW turbines. This decision was largely driven by the findings of our geotechnical surveys to understand the seabed conditions, which turned out to be challenging in some areas of the site. In total the scheme will contribute 400MW of newly installed electrical capacity to the UK’s energy mix.
The turbine layout is a regular grid matrix with a minimum spacing between the turbines of at least 750 m and including one offshore substation. The final layout was signed off by the relevant statutory bodies.
How much power will Rampion generate?
The 400MW of installed electrical capacity will generate almost 1,400 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power output each year from a clean, renewable energy source. This is enough power to supply the equivalent of almost 350,000 UK homes each year for the lifetime of the project.
What type of foundations were used?
They were monopile foundations to support all the turbines in the final layout, with a jacket foundation being employed for the offshore substation.
What is the final onshore design?
The onshore cable route is defined by the DCO as a 40m corridor within which we are restricted to a 30m working width. The onshore surveys helped with refining the working width to avoid ecologically sensitive areas, such as mature trees, and in particularly sensitive areas (pinch points) we reduced the working width to 15m for short distances to reduce the impact on hedgerows.
The optimised scheme of 400MW has allowed us to reduce the number of circuits from four to two. However, did still require the haul road, topsoil and subsoil storage areas and we need to retain sufficient distance between the circuits to meet thermal conductivity requirements.
How much has the wind farm cost?
The capital investment from development through to construction and commissioning is likely to be in region of £1bn - £1.2bn.