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Anger over wind farm plan for rich lobster grounds

Concern is growing among fishermen at Bridlington and Scarborough over the growing number of wind turbine farms being built or planned in their main fishing grounds.

There is particular anger over a Crown Estate decision to build an offshore wind farm in one of the most productive lobster fishing areas around the UK coastline. The fishermen said there was no consultation beforehand.

Gary Hodgson from the Bridlington and Flamborough Fishermen’s Association, said it was too early to say that damage this new wind farm would cause. But he added:: “We have here probably the most viable and sustainable fishery in the country with zero discards. The Crown Estate had originally considered a less sensitive area, but now they have come into one of our most sensitive grounds with no consultation whatsoever.”

Barry Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, told Fishupdate that the NFFO was not against wind farms or marine conservation zones as such, but the current process was flawed and was being rushed through. The area off the Yorkshire Coast was one of the most prolific and important shellfishing areas anywhere in Europe.

Earlier he told BBC Look North that both marine parks and wind turbines had the potential to displace fishermen from their traditional grounds. The Crown Estate said it needed to do things differently. One wind farm on the Dogger Bank, probably the best known North Sea fishing area, was so large that it would cover the whole of North Yorkshire. The Crown Estate has said it was unable to change the boundaries of the wind farms as it was constrained by Competition Law. “The time has passed for any opportunity to adjust the boundary without risking referral to the competition authorities. “We strongly encourage the parties to engage in constructive dialogue to overcome this issue.

The Department of the Environment said there was no evidence of wind farms damaging fishing in other areas, but added it was ready to discuss concerns with the Bridlington shell fishermen.