The Crown Estate and National Grid ESO have agreed to develop their partnership, delivering two recommendations from electricity networks commissioner Nick Winser to accelerate the deployment of transmission infrastructure in Britain.
The renewal of the Statement of Intent between the two organisations was announced yesterday (19 December) as both agreed to “collaborate more closely on future strategic planning.”
To create a more coordinated approach to seabed leasing and transmission infrastructure delivery The Crown Estate – which manages the sovereign’s public estate including the North Sea seabed – has revealed that, alongside the ESO, it will collaborate on a Strategic Spatial Energy Plan (SSEP) and a Marine Delivery Routemap.
These actions were both recommendations within Nick Winser’s independent ‘Accelerating electricity transmission network deployment report’ published in August 2023.
Owned by the ESO, the SSEP will be a spatial energy plan to map what infrastructure must be built, where and when, in order to deliver the UK’s target to have a decarbonised energy system by 2035. The plan forms part of a wider planning reform to accelerate network investment, including connecting offshore wind.
For offshore wind in particular, the ESO will use The Crown Estate’s data and evidence investments – such as the Marine Data Exchange and the Offshore Wind Evidence & Change programme – to ensure that infrastructure planning takes into account nature and biodiversity.
The Marine Delivery Routemap on the other hand will feed into the SSEP by making sure that the Plan takes non-energy sectors into consideration, including storage, minerals, and coastal.
Demand for seabed space is also set to increase significantly as the UK works towards its 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 target. To manage the needs of the seabed against this demand, The Crown Estate is building a integrated spatial analysis platform, that will underpin the Routemap, considering the needs of the seabed.
Gus Jaspert, managing director, marine at The Crown Estate said that the UK seabed was “facing a transition,” which requires deliberate and careful handing of this “precious resource to support a growing set of priorities.”
“That’s why I welcome today’s commitment between The Crown Estate and the ESO to collaborate more closely on strategic spatial planning,” continued Jaspert.
“Only through these kinds of partnerships will we be able to charter a course that helps to meet the needs of everyone who requires the seabed to deliver our net-zero targets, alongside our food, transport, tourism needs and the needs of our natural environment.”
Julian Leslie, chief engineer and head of networks and the ESO, welcomed the renewed partnership, believing it will “support the development of a more coordinated approach to the delivery of transmission infrastructure and accelerated connections for offshore wind projects.”