Below is the text of the statement made by Kwasi Kwarteng, the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, in the House of Commons on 9 July 2020.
This statement concerns an application made by Norfolk Boreas Ltd for development consent for the installation, operation and maintenance of the proposed Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm, their related offshore infrastructure off the coast of Norfolk and their related onshore electrical connections within this county.
Under section 98(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the examining authority must complete its examination of an application by the end of the period of six months beginning with the day after the start day of the examination unless the Secretary of State sets a new deadline under section 98(4) of that Act. Where a new deadline is set, the Secretary of State must make a statement to Parliament to announce it.
A request has been made by the Planning Inspectorate to extend the examination period—for five months—for the proposed Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm development. The reasons given for this request were:
due to Government guidelines in relation to coronavirus (“covid-19”) several hearings needed to be cancelled, potentially resulting in interested parties not being given a fair opportunity to participate in the examination;
a number of interested parties no longer had the capacity to participate in the examination process as a result of covid-19 resource prioritisation.
Taking these reasons into account and, after careful consideration, the Secretary of State has decided to reset the statutory timescale for the examination as requested. This means that the examination period is now extended to 12 October 2020.
As a consequence, the date for receipt of the examining authority’s report to BEIS is extended to 12 January 2021 and the statutory deadline for the Secretary of State’s decision is extended to 12 April 2021.
However, mindful of the need to avoid unnecessary delays to the development consent process, the Secretary of State requests the examining authority to make best efforts to complete the examination process as soon as is reasonably practicable within the extended period. He has requested that a new timetable for the examination should be published which demonstrates the actions to be taken to complete the examination as quickly as possible in this period. He also expects the examination authority to provide his Department with regular updates on progress.
The decision to set the new deadlines for this application is without prejudice to the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.