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The process for obtaining approval for the development of an offshore wind farm falls into two main stages.
First developers need to obtain a site lease from the Crown Estate. In July 2003, the Crown Estate invited bids for seabed leases for offshore wind in three strategic areas; Thames Estuary, Greater Wash and the North West. The criteria being used to assess bids include the financial standing and experience of the applicant, environmental aspects of the proposed site location and the impact on other marine users, and the coherence of the business development plan.
Second developers must obtain statutory consents including the Electricity Act 1989 (Section 36) and Coast Protection Act 1949 (Section 34) or the Transport and Works Act 1992. In both cases, a licence under Section 5 of the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) 1985 is needed. Developers are required to submit environmental impact assessments to support their applications, which are considered on a case by case basis.
In assessing whether consent will be granted, departments will take into account the benefits the project will bring in meeting the Government's renewable energy and environmental targets, as well as the impact of the development on the environment, and the other users of the sea, including the fishing and navigation interests.