Crown Estate confirms lease agreements for six new offshore wind farms

The Crown Estate has pledged to oversee the development of strategic environmental compensation plans for two protected sites that will be impacted by six huge offshore wind farms that it has this week agreed leases for, but conservation groups have warned that action on climate “must not come at the cost of further damage to the natural world”.

According to the government, the six sites have the potential to generate around 8GW of renewable electricity, which it said could power more than seven million homes by the end of the decade.

The leases were confirmed as part of the Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4.

The profit from the deal is worth £1bn per year, which is set to go straight to the Treasury rather than the Royal Family after King Charles asked for it to be redirected, according to the BBC

Three of the six projects are located off the North Wales, Cumbria and Lancashire coast, and three are located in the North Sea off the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire coast. The existing 36 operational offshore wind farms on estate sites are located off the coast of Wales, England, and Northern Ireland.

The Crown Estate has said it will now oversee the development of strategic environmental compensation plans for two protected sites that will be impacted by the developments. 

However, Katie-jo Luxton, the RSPB’s director of conservation, warned that “untested compensation schemes for nature, with no guarantee of success, are not a substitute for a planning system that avoids sensitive areas in the first place."

She added that "the urgently required action needed on climate must not come at the cost of further damage to the natural world" and said that "We need government leadership and collaboration to not only avoid nature loss but take steps to build resilience for thriving seas."

READ MORE: When net zero and nature collide: How offshore wind is causing trouble onshore

The UK has committed to increase offshore wind capacity to 50 GW by 2030 in its British Energy Security Strategy, which is a five fold increase on current levels. 

Minister for energy and climate, Graham Stuart said this development demonstrates Britain's position as “the European leader in offshore wind”.

He said: "Offshore wind is at the heart of our goal to secure clean, affordable and resilient energy supply for all in the UK, while bringing major business, investment and job opportunities along with it.”

Julie James, the Welsh government’s minister for climate change, added: “Today’s announcement is an important step forward - not just to deliver sustainable future sources of energy but also for the Welsh economy and communities.

“We are determined to make the most of opportunities afforded by the urgent need to scale up renewable energy generation to transition away from fossil fuels and believe offshore wind will play a major role in the future energy system in Wales.”