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NECR501 Edition 1 Assessment of environmental impacts of proposed floating offshore wind design envelope (NECR501)

Wind-generated electricity has effectively promoted the net-zero carbon emission plan, and gradually developed to the deeper ocean, which leads to the emergence of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) technology. Rapid growth in FLOW is expected as the technology, supply chain and infrastructure develop. Following a number of successful prototypes and demonstration projects, FLOW is now taking the first steps in commercialisation. The British Energy Security Strategy included an aim to bring forward up to 5 GW of floating offshore wind by 2030. The Crown Estate has set out ambitious plans to deliver an initial 4 GW of commercial-scale FLOW capacity in the Celtic Sea by 2035, with the region assessed to have the potential to accommodate up to 24 GW by 2045.

This report was commissioned by Natural England to gather data on the potential environmental effects of FLOW to develop an evidence base to better inform decision making and spatial planning in relation to the upcoming commercial scale of FLOW in England. The work was undertaken in three phases:

  • The first phase delivered a technical review of the available FLOW technologies that exist in the market currently;
  • The second phase of the project was to identify the environmental receptors that may be sensitive to impacts from FLOW developments; and
  • The third phase of the project was to assess the potential environmental impacts and pressure pathways from FLOW.

In addition to assessing the environmental impacts, mitigation measures and evidence gaps were also identified for each pressure throughout this report. Based on the overall objectives of this project, the most significant evidence gaps are considered to be:

  • The lack of information relating to the impact of seabed disturbance pressures on specific habitats or sediment types,
  • The lack of publicly available information relating to the design envelope for below water elements of wind turbines, specifically, quantitative figures for the seabed footprints of different anchor / mooring line types, and penetration depth of different anchor types. As these evidence gaps impact the robustness of this report, it is recommended that they are prioritised in further scopes of work.

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NECR501 Edition 1 Assessment of environmental impacts of proposed floating offshore wind design envelope, PDF, 8.7 MB 2024/04/30


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