Council slams RWE over Triton Knoll

Lincolnshire County Council in eastern England has written to the UK government to criticise developer RWE over its handling of onshore planning for the up-to-900MW Triton Knoll offshore wind farm.

The council wrote to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) regarding development of the onshore electrical infrastructure for Triton Knoll, which has aroused considerable local controversy.

German-owned utility RWE has already switched its preferred site for the Intermediate Electrical Compound once, when the local East Lindsey District Council said it would object to placing the compound in the original location.

The developer is planning more consultations over the total onshore infrastructure programme ahead of a submission to the UK Planning Inspectorate in 2015.

But Lincolnshire County Council’s letter slams the way in which the RWE has dealt with the process over Triton Knoll, which got offshore approval from DECC in 2013.

“The experts agree that it makes no sense to approve an offshore development without first having approval for the onshore elements. Decoupling two parts of a scheme in this way results in great uncertainty for affected residents,” claimed councillor Colin Davie, executive member for planning.

Davie claimed RWE’s approach to local consultation is “characterised by incomplete information and the inability to justify its selection of substation sites when reasonable alternatives are available.

“This makes it impossible for the council to engage with RWE on an equal footing as it is disadvantaged by a lack of timely and transparent information,” added Davie.

RWE said the UK secretary of state was “satisfied that it was not necessary or indeed possible for RWE to submit detailed information about the anticipated grid connection for the proposal as part of the (offshore) application”.

It adds that more than £20m ($33.7m) has already been invested in the UK as a result of the project, with £1.75m in the East Coast of England region.

Jacob Hain, Triton Knoll project manager, said Lincolnshire County Council has been “repeatedly invited to comment on the approaching consultation”. Hain claimed that a revised timetable with the local council in Lincolnshire was agreed beforehand for the provision of the requested material.

However, “more consultation activities are planned throughout the summer and autumn where local residents and landowners can learn more about the proposals and have their say,” he added.

RWE cut the capacity of Triton Knoll from an initial 1.2GW to between 600MW and 900MW at the beginning of the year, saying it was “trying to ensure the efficiency and utilization of the site is maximised”.