Plans to double the capacity of two Norfolk offshore wind farms have been given the green light by the UK’s energy secretary.

Equinor, which owns the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon offshore wind farms, said the extension projects would allow it to provide enough renewable energy to power an additional 785,000 homes.

The decision was granted by Claire Coutinho, the secretary of state for energy security and net zero, and will include up to 53 new turbines.

Halfdan Brustad, Equinor’s vice president, said: “We are delighted with the secretary of state’s decision to award consent… clearing the way forward to significantly contribute to the UK’s offshore wind and net zero targets by 2030.

“The extensions build on our longstanding presence in Norfolk and we look forward to contributing even more positively to the local region and the UK’s offshore wind growth.”

But not everyone is pleased with the decision.

The RSPB warned that adding more turbines to the area could have a negative impact on “already struggling seabirds”, and has called on the government to do more to protect environmentally “sensitive” areas. 

Eastern Daily Press: Sandwich tern in flight over Blakeney (Image: National Trust/Ian Ward)Sandwich tern in flight over Blakeney (Image: National Trust/Ian Ward) (Image: National Trust/Ian Ward)

Katie-jo Luxton, the RSPB’s director of conservation, said: “Offshore wind has an essential part to play in decarbonising our energy systems to achieve net zero and mitigate the effects of climate change. 

“But the lack of proper consideration of marine nature in planning these wind farms is forcing internationally important seabird populations to pay a heavy price.

“The approval of Dudgeon and Sheringham extensions will now also impact vital colonies of amber-listed sandwich terns from north Norfolk.”

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.

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.