The construction of a new marine energy park that could help power thousands of homes across the UK and boost the nation’s energy security has been thrown into doubt, following another delay in the decision process.
The development is located on the on the south bank of the Humber and is being overseen by Able UK, which claims that the park will create up to 4,000 local jobs.
However, construction will involve the reclamation of 136 acres of land from the Humber estuary, as well as the development of 605 acres onshore, which has led to concerns about the ecological impact on the area.
Bump in the road
These have been upheld by Transport Minister Norman Baker, whose support is vital if the project is to receive the green light.
He has already postponed making a decision on the development twice – in May and July – and has now done so for a third time, claiming he is awaiting further information on two key details.
These include the environmental impact on the Humber Estuary, and whether the project would jeopardise any operations of the Killingholme Branch railway.
A report said the minister feels that the regeneration and economic development of the area is “a matter of public benefit”, as is the ongoing support for the development of the offshore renewable energy industry.
“He nevertheless recognises that the project would be likely to have a number of adverse environmental impacts, especially in relation to the ecologically-sensitive Humber estuary,” the report added.
Though news of Baker’s support for the project was welcomed by Able UK, it said that yet another delay is “more than a little frustrating”.
Neil Etherington, group development director, reiterated that Able UK has put forward measures to spend more than £35 million on protecting wildlife and the environment in the region.
“We will be taking immediate steps to address the issues raised [by Baker] and sincerely hope that there will be no further delays in a project which enjoys the overwhelming support of the entire local community,” he added.
Important step forward
Renewable UK deputy chief executive Maf Smith said the project is an “important step forward” in the development of the country’s offshore wind manufacturing sector.
“This project demonstrates the massive scale of the opportunity we have to revitalise coastal areas around the country, creating tens of thousands of green-collar jobs by focusing specifically on marine renewables,” he explained.
According to Natural England, it recognises the importance of the development in terms of bringing investment and jobs to the area, as well as stimulating economic growth and promoting renewable energy, but noted that other concerns need to be taken into account before development proceeds.
“Our aim is not to block this nationally significant development, but to ensure that if approved it can go ahead without breaching conservation laws and where it damages the protected site, adequate new habitat is provided to offset the loss of this sensitive, vital piece of our natural environment,” the organisation stated.
Baker is set to make a decision on whether to give the development the green light once he is satisfied that the two issues he has most recently raised have been sufficiently dealt with by Able UK.