Big Story Wind Farm

Brighton, and indeed all of the Sussex coast, may be a wonderful spot to visit whether as a day-tripper, a business visitor, or creeping in as ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’. There is so much to do along the county’s various towns and resorts.

There was also, however, the view out to sea; a vast, featureless seascape, occasionally broken up by an amazing murmuration, but – other than that – blank.

For the past six or so years, that horizon has been alive with the rotating powerhouses of the Rampion Wind Farm. At a time when renewable energy - wind, in this instance - is finally being harnessed on an industrial scale, Rampion represents a more positive outlook for energy production.

So much so, that there are now plans to increase the size of the wind farm, to more than double its size and, because of advances in efficiency, more than triple the output. By Alan Wares


Rampion Wind Farm

The genesis of the original Rampion Wind Farm started in earnest around 15 years ago. Wind technology had hitherto been too expensive to scale up to such a necessary and worthwhile size. However, by the late noughties, with the advancing technology, and
the associated falling costs, tenders had been invited by the Crown Estate, owners of the seabed around the UK within British waters for energy production. In January 2010, E.ON was awarded the development rights to the zone off the Sussex coast.

Initially known as ‘Zone 6 off the Sussex coast’,  E.ON held a competition with local schools to suggest a new name. ‘Rampion’ was voted the winning suggestion, submitted by a pupil at Davison High School in Worthing. She named it after the round-headed rampion (phyteuma orbiculare), also known as the Pride of Sussex, and the county flower of Sussex.


The farm

E.ON’s final plans use 116 turbines of approximately 3.45 megawatt (MW) capacity. Each turbine is 140 metres (459.3 ft) high to the tip of the blade, the blade length is 55 metres. 

Each turbine is 500 metres from its nearest neighbour. Boats are allowed into the wind farm zone with permission, though none are allowed closer than 50 metres to any turbine. 

E.ON eventually set up shop in a purpose-built office-factory unit in Newhaven, housing the administration and engineering functions of the wind farm. The site and associated buildings act as the combined servicing point for the wind farm.

The project was approved by the Government in July 2014. Onshore building work began in 2015 with the construction of a new electricity substation adjacent to the existing National Grid Bolney substation in the middle of Sussex. Offshore, the 116 foundations were piled into the sea bed and, on completion of this, the first wind turbine was lifted into place in March 2017.

Coincident with this was the ongoing work to backfill the cable duct trenches off Lancing beach initially due to be completed in Spring 2017. Installation of the remainder of the 150kV cable through to Bolney and the burying in the sea bed of the 33kV inter array cables was also completed during this time following the installation of a 2,000 tonne offshore 33/150kV substation. This was completed in April 2017.

Locals recall with huge amusement when an excavator was stranded and disabled after completing cable trench backfilling work on Lancing beach in April 2017; getting stuck there for over two months before it was finally removed.

Electricity production commenced during November 2017. Construction of the wind farm was completed in 2018 at a cost of £1.3 billion. Since then, the blades have been turning, producing electricity for the equivalent of up to 350,000 homes, and saving an approximate 600,000 tonnes of carbon had the same energy been produced by fossil fuels.


Rampion 2

Such has been the success of the Rampion Wind Farm that RWE, the company that now operates it, has applied for a larger wind farm, imaginatively called ‘Rampion 2’.

The project is currently at the stage where the DCO application for the Rampion 2 Offshore Wind Farm has been accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate. The Preliminary Meeting and first public hearings will be held from February 6th-9th 2024
at DoubleTree by Hilton Brighton Metropole. To view the application and examination documents, visit the Rampion 2 page on the Planning Inspectorate website.

The application is for an offshore wind farm, mainly to the west of the current wind farm, though with some turbines to the south, and all the onshore electrical infrastructure required to transmit the power to the final connection into the national electricity network at Bolney. This includes an underground onshore cable route approximately 25 miles long from the landfall at Climping to a new onshore substation at Oakendene, near Cowfold.

The intended zone will be an area up to around 196 (increased from 72, comprising up to 90 wind turbines and associated foundations, inter-array cables connecting the turbines to up to three offshore substations, and export cables taking the power to shore at Climping, between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis.

The enlarged wind farm, like the current incumbent, will still be no closer than eight miles from the coast.

To give some context, the entire area of Brighton & Hove is just shy of 90 In short, it’s massive.



Rampion 2 is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) because of its capacity to deliver large amounts of electricity. The process for gaining consent to develop major offshore wind farms is set in legislation.

National planning policies set out what documents and evidence Rampion 2 need to submit. There are stringent rules on how to consult stakeholders about the project. There is a formal process that the application and decision making must follow. The owners of Rampion 2 must apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Planning Inspectorate and the DCO application is then assessed and determined under the Planning Act 2008.

One problem the developers have is a  fairly nice one – on a certain level. While the project is intended to be fully operational by the end of this decade, the advances in the technology to generate renewable electricity are predicted to be fast paced. Turbine designers aim to capture and convert as much of the wind’s power into electricity as possible. Greater blade ‘tip heights’ have been key to advances in technology to date. The power of offshore wind turbines has increased fivefold in just 20 years, and this pace show no sign of abating.

By assessing maximum parameters for turbines, the developers claim to have the flexibility to produce an optimal layout for them within this envelope. The turbines will be no taller than the maximum blade tip height. In October 2022, the Rampion 2 Project Team reduced the maximum number of turbines down from 116 to 90. This was in response to feedback on visual effects and shipping from key stakeholders, including Natural England.

As a result, the maximum height of 325 metres tip height above Lowest Astronomical Tide (that’s up to 2.3 times the existing Rampion turbine height) and will have a 22m minimum air gap above Mean High Water Springs (MHWS).

By the time of the intended start of electricity production, Rampion 2 will have the capacity to generate up to 1,200 MW of power which, given the average domestic electricity consumption, is the equivalent of one million homes – while reducing carbon emissions from electricity production by 1.8 million tonnes.

The answer would certainly appear to be blowing in the wind.

The case for wind

The UK is the windiest country in Europe so it makes sense to harness this wind to generate our electricity.

• Wind is carbon neutral – there’s no fuel to burn and no emissions
• Wind is home grown – there’s no need to import or transport fuel
• Wind is free – there are no fuel or waste management costs
• Wind turbines are very efficient at converting wind power to electricity
• Offshore wind farms can be built at large scale – to match the output from a fossil fuelled power station
• Tackling climate change is not going to break the bank – the cost of offshore wind technology has plummeted in recent years and
as Rampion 2 would only be built in a few years’ time it will be cheaper than a new build gas power station ?

? ? 2019. Analysis of wind farm contract prices

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