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UK opens 4th offshore wind leasing round

The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed rights in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has formally opened its fourth offshore wind leasing round, following more than 18 months of preparation.

The fourth round will offer seabed rights for at least 7 GW of new offshore wind projects in the waters around England and Wales, according to an Oct. 14 news release. The Crown Estate has admitted that record-high prices for seabed leases along the U.S. East Coast have influenced the structure of the auction.

The leasing process will first begin with the pre-qualification questionnaire, or PQQ, stage, which will assess bidders' capacity to deliver an offshore wind project. The deadline for PQQ submissions is Nov. 29.

After the PQQ stage, there will be two invitations to tender stages, which will run from February 2020 to June 2020 for the first stage and in September 2020 for the second stage. A plan-level habitats regulations assessment will then take place from fall 2020 to summer 2021. Successful bidders will sign agreements for lease by autumn 2021.