Offshore and onshore wind developers are required to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment as part of any planning application. The Environmental Impact Assessment affords protection to the environment by ensuring that the planning authority considers any significant effects as part of the decision-making process and that the local community are informed of any impacts.
For onshore wind projects in England, the local authority is the primary decision maker for all sizes of schemes. We introduced planning tests in 2015 that ensure that local communities have the final say on onshore wind farm developments. This means that a local community can raise concerns based on the publicly available information in the Environmental Impact Assessment, and a development cannot be granted permission if these concerns have not been addressed. Copies of Environmental Impact Assessments are usually available on local authority websites.
Planning applications for offshore wind projects in England and Wales above 100MW capacity are determined by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime. In respect of the Secretary of State’s decisions on applications for development consent made so far in 2020, Environmental Impact Assessments were carried out on the Thanet Extension Offshore Wind Farm and the Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm, details of which are available on The Planning Inspectorate’s website - https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/
In addition, Defra has undertaken strategic assessments of the environmental impacts of offshore wind developments, including assessments of cabling impacts, floating wind technologies and underwater noise. Given the Government’s ambitions for offshore wind, Defra is working closely with other Government bodies, the Crown Estate, industry and wider stakeholders to prepare for and mitigate against the environmental impacts of growth in this sector. Included in this is the Offshore Wind Enabling Actions programme, a £4.3m action programme to be jointly run by Defra and BEIS to deliver upon its aims.