Plans for a second massive wind farm off the Yorkshire coast have put fishermen in Britain’s most important shellfishing area on a collision course with developers.
Next week residents are being given the chance to view plans for the 240MW farm which will transform the skyline of a 30-mile stretch of Yorkshire’s East Coast.
Westernmost Rough could have as many as 78 wind turbines, standing 150m (492ft) high from the base to the tip of the blade, and will only be 14km (8.6 miles) from another huge wind farm called Humber Gateway.
It means that in future looking out to sea between Spurn Point and Flamborough Head observers are likely to see wind turbines, rather than an empty horizon.
The company behind the plans, Dong Energy, has said fishermen, pleasure boat owners and divers who use the area, just 8km (five miles) off Tunstall, will be able to go between the turbines once it is up and running – but not within 50m (164ft) of the actual structures.
However,fishermen fear that if any safety problems emerge, the Government could decide to impose a blanket exclusion, and they are still angry that they were not included in consultation when fixing the original site.
Fisheries liaison officer Dave Bevan, for the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), said: “Fishermen are very worried about wind farms, particularly Westernmost Rough, because of its location and they are very worried as to whether they can effectively and safely fish within the wind farm when it is up and running.”
Should any serious incidents occur, there was a fear the Government would step in and close down access to the area, he said, adding: “Dong may work with the best intentions, but in the end the decision may not be theirs.
“We have asked Government officials why they put it in the heart of the UK’s number one shellfishing area and no one can give us a straight answer. The answer most likely is that they didn’t appreciate that fact.”
With a third round of licences being announced yesterday for 13 more wind farms Mr Bevan said there was concern that even more could be built locally.
The NFFO has been negotiating with Dong, which wants to survey the seabed in the area and had asked for a “facilitation” fee, which Dong refused.
Project manager Kurt Jensen said they had agreed not to put down any equipment that would disturb the fishermen’s gear during their peak season which begins on July 1.
Fishermen would be compensated for their losses during the wind farm’s construction and when it was built the firm did not intend excluding them from the site, he said.
He added: “We are trying to find a situation in the future where we can live friendly together with the fishermen so all can benefit from the existence of the wind farm. We are not interested in any kind of war with the fishermen.
“The problem is we are speaking about a wind farm that could be built in five years time and you can’t decide compensation because the fishery may change dramatically by that point.”
As to the wider visual impact Mr Jensen said: “Some people like them. Some people think they are horrible. You can do nothing to make them disappear.
“Everything has been tried with painting and nothing has any influence – it will be visible. It’s a question of whether you accept it or not.”
The wind farm still needs the Government’s consent.
The public can see the plans between 12pm and 7pm next Tuesday at South Holderness Resource Centre, Seaside Road, Withernsea; at the same times on June 11 at the Hornsea Floral Hall and again on Thursday at The Spa, Bridlington.
By Alexandra Wood
5 June 2008
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