As Chairman of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership, I am writing to express our support for the Rampion 2 wind farm expansion that is being proposed by RWE on behalf of a joint venture. We are a business-led economic partnership that brings together senior leaders from industry and the public sector to collaborate on economic issues affecting the region.
The Government recently declared a climate emergency and has committed to the UK becoming Net Zero by 2050. The Government has also set a target to deliver over a third of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030 and the Rampion 2 wind farm will make a significant contribution towards this goal.
Concern has been expressed to us about two issues:
1. The scale of the turbines and
2. The onshore cable route from Climping to the substation in the vicinity of Bolney.
1. Reviewing the consultation documents we fully appreciate that in order to generate the maximum electricity from the turbines you need to embrace the newest technologies. That means that at the moment the most efficient turbines are higher than those used in Rampion 1. However, turbine technologies are continually evolving and the power of offshore turbines has increased 5 fold in 20 years and may change again ahead of Rampion 2 being complete so the final height of the turbines is not fixed but very likely to be higher than those previously used. We recognise that it’s the scale of the turbines that enable the wind farm to produce such quantities of energy and this is much needed by the UK hence their proposed scale which must be used to gain maximum output.
2. With regard to the onshore cable, RWE have proposed that the approach to the ground and remediation work that was done to repair the cable route for Rampion 1 will be replicated for Rampion 2 and therefore there will be little evidence of the cable route to the natural environment in the medium to long term. We appreciate that the entire cable route will be buried underground and the landscape elements that are removed during construction will be reinstated. However in some areas of the PEIR there was a lack of detail about the mitigation measures as well as a number of caveats which could reduce the overall performance of the reinstatement work. As the cable will run across environmentally sensitive areas and within the South Downs National Park, we would like to encourage RWE to mitigate the environmental impact of this cable route as much as possible.
We have been pleased at the level of local consultation and stakeholder engagement that has taken place which has given local people an opportunity to explore the proposal in detail. We appreciate that the scale of this project has raised concerns however, looking beyond the aesthetics of the windfarm, the energy that this development will produce has the ability to produce 1200MW of electricity; able to power 1M homes and will make a significant contribution in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
For the CWS Partnership, we would be keen to understand the economic benefit that this development could bring to local businesses. In the previous development phase, supplier events such as Meet the Buyer were hosted by Rampion and we would be keen to explore and encourage this type of event again so that, where possible, local businesses would have the opportunity to gain contracts from Tier 1 contractors.
As a legacy of the original Rampion development a community benefit fund was established and is managed through the Sussex Community Foundation. The fund supports organisations working for the benefit of Sussex people and we would like to encourage RWE and Rampion Extension Development Ltd to take the same approach if consent for this development is granted. As the impact of this new development will be greater than the Rampion 1 development, we’d like to suggest that the level of financial contribution to the foundation should also be greater.
And finally looking at visitors and the educational experience offered in the Brighton Visitor Centre. The visitor centre was opened in Brighton and I’m sure it offers a great educational experience for children and adults. However, access to this Centre for schools in West Sussex would have been challenging before the Covid pandemic but now, physically visiting the Centre will be even more difficult. We would like to encourage RWE to think creatively and more broadly about how it can educate and inspire young people whilst in their own schools so that they can get the benefit of the Rampion Wind Farm experience without having to travel to Brighton.
The UK is committed to achieving net zero targets but we are still some way off achieving the pace needed to limit global warming. Regional leaders have committed to making the Greater Brighton area an exemplar in climate sustainability. This development fits perfectly with the Greater Brighton 10 pledges that were endorsed by the Greater Brighton Economic Board in 2020 and will further establish our area as a leader in clean, sustainable energy.
The Rampion 2 development will make a significant contribution to producing clean, green energy and must be allowed to be delivered. Just because people don’t like to see the turbines on the horizon should not be a reason to prevent the windfarm expansion. We need to embrace clean and green technologies as a matter of urgency to help mitigate the climate changes the world is currently experiencing.
Chairman, Coastal West Sussex Partnership – Client Director, Inpress Plastics, Littlehampton