With the UK Government committed to net zero emissions by 2050, and offshore wind now being a proven, competitive renewable technology, there is strong market and policy demand in the UK to make new areas of the seabed available for offshore wind.
Recognising this demand, in 2019 The Crown Estate launched Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, opening up the opportunity for new seabed rights for offshore wind development around England and Wales, and marking a significant moment in the UK’s clean energy future. Since the last seabed leasing round almost a decade ago, major new operators have entered the market, technology developments have opened up new possibilities, and the seas around our coastline have become increasingly busy. A new leasing round could only be successful if it took these changes into account. We therefore embarked on a major 18-month long engagement programme with industry and stakeholders to discuss the most appropriate scale, location and nature of Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4.
Through a phased programme of market and stakeholder events, workshops and global webinars, we shared our plans and gathered significant feedback which was instrumental in devising and shaping the final leasing round design.
Alongside this, key political stakeholders were kept informed through events and direct communication with local MPs, Welsh Assembly Members and local authorities.
We also committed to keeping the market and stakeholders informed through data sharing, and have made technical analysis of the seabed, independent environmental research findings, feedback about ecological, logistical and environmental concerns and event summaries freely accessible online. In doing so, our aim is to help developers and stakeholders make informed decisions as the leasing round progresses.
The UK’s offshore wind industry is a national success story to be proud of. We will continue to engage with the industry and stakeholders, make data and evidence freely available, and invest in strategic enabling actions, so that together we can unlock the extraordinary potential of the UK’s seabed in a way that balances the broad range of interests in the marine environment and helps deliver a low carbon energy system.