The clock is ticking for a decision over whether two wind farms off the coast of Norfolk will be permitted to double in size.

Eastern Daily Press: Sheringham ShoalSheringham Shoal (Image: CHPV Offshore Energy Media Services)

Energy secretary Claire Coutinho has until next week to decide whether to allow Norwegian energy giant Equinor to expand its Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms to power 1.5 million homes.

Eastern Daily Press: Claire CoutinhoClaire Coutinho (Image: Press Association)

The company lodged an application with the Planning Inspectorate, seeking a development consent order for the wind farm extensions, in September 2022.

A series of public hearings were held by the Planning Inspectorate throughout 2023, including ones focusing on how Equinor needs to use compulsory purchase powers to make Norfolk landowners sell land needed so the development can go ahead.

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Those hearings, where representations from various people and businesses were made, were used by the planning inspector to decide on a recommendation to make to the secretary of state for energy security and net zero.


Eastern Daily Press: The proposed cable trench area from Weybourne to the Norwich Main Substation at Stoke Holy Cross

Ms Coutinho can decide to agree with that recommendation, or could choose to go against it, but must issue a decision by Wednesday (January 17).

READ MORE: Norfolk Boreas wind farm scheme halted by Vattenfall

Kari Hege Mork, Equinor’s project director for the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon expansion, previously said wind farms in the North Sea were the "epicentre" of the company’s offshore portfolio.


Eastern Daily Press: A size comparison showing the planned new wind turbines to be built next to the existing turbines off the north Norfolk coast.A size comparison showing the planned new wind turbines to be built next to the existing turbines off the north Norfolk coast. (Image: Equinor)

Sheringham Shoal is around 10 miles off Weybourne at its nearest point to shore, while the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm is 20 miles north of Cromer off the coast of Norfolk

The two wind farms currently consist of 155 turbines, and although 95 turbines are planned as part of the expansion, they will be much bigger than the ones already in place – taller than the Eiffel Tower at 330m.

Equinor, which has operated in the UK for 40 years, hopes the expansion of the two wind farms will contribute towards its ambition to be net zero by 2050, and for 50pc of its operations to be in renewable and carbon projects.