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Floating Offshore Wind: Celtic Sea

Volume 742: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2023

7. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on expediting the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea. (900422)

I have regular—in fact, frequent—conversations with Cabinet colleagues and stakeholders to support the floating offshore wind industry, which will create high-quality jobs in Wales. The Government fully support plans for up to 4 GW of floating offshore wind in the Celtic sea, and we are working to bring forward an additional 12 GW through the 2030s, with the potential to bring forward up to £20 billion-worth of investment.

Previous offshore wind developments on England’s east coast have shown that appropriate planning is needed to minimise disruption to communities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic sea should mean single-cable corridors—one to his side of the water, and just one to the north coast of Devon or Cornwall—to reduce environmental and societal disruption?

I know that the electricity systems operator is currently reviewing the design of connections for offshore wind projects. Last week—or possibly earlier this week—I met the Crown Estate, and I have been meeting National Grid to discuss some of the issues around cabling and the reconfiguration of the grid. The decision as to where the cables will go and how many of them there will be is a fairly technical one that I fear I am not qualified to take a view on, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the Crown Estate and National Grid would be more than happy to talk to her about that.

Any onshore and offshore wind in the Celtic sea will affect fishermen in Northern Ireland as well. Can the Secretary of State assure me that, when it comes to plans for offshore wind, the fishing organisations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will all have input on where it happens, so that fishing will not be affected?

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. In sparking a floating offshore wind industry, certain challenges need to be dealt with together with various other Government Departments—he has made reference to one challenge. I can assure him that I have already had informal discussions about that, and will be looking to have more such discussions with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and other Government Departments to ensure that we overcome all the challenges and create a vibrant, sustainable industry for the future.