A huge off-shore wind farm is to be built off the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England’s only geological World Heritage Site, prompting concern for tourism and sea views.
About 250 450ft tall turbines will be built across a 76 square mile area of the English Channel , making the development twice as big as the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which is currently 100 300ft turbines off Kent.
The turbines, which will be sited in a depth of 120ft of water, will provide enough energy to power up to 820,000 homes.
But protesters claim that the wind farm could spoil the view and effect tourism.
The turbines will be situated just eight miles east of Swanage, Dorset, which makes up part of Britain’s World Heritage Jurassic Coast and will be seen from the shore.
It will also be 10 miles from Bournemouth and visible to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit its beaches every year. The horizon is 17 miles away from the resort’s cliffs.
They will also be lit up at night-time so they don’t present a danger to shipping.
The Crown Estate, which owns the seabed, gave Dutch energy company Eneco permission to build the farm across a 279 square mile area of sea between Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
After examining the location the firm decided on the 76 square mile section in the most northern part of that area but local people remain concerned about the site.
Tony Williams, environment director at Bournemouth Borough Council, was worried about sea views.
“We support the wind farm in principle,” he said. “But in terms of visibility we recognise that the 150 metre high turbines maybe an issue and we are concerned they will be located at a distance of 10 miles.”
Author Rodney Legg, who has written books on the Jurassic Coast, said a wind farm off the Dorset coast would be a disaster.
“It’s England’s only geological World Heritage Site which is up to 400 million years old and you don’t want those things in the background,” he said.
“They would be an incredible distraction. Shipping is one thing because you would expect it in a maritime nation, but wind turbines would be cluttering things up.
“It would be spoiling a view that is half as old as time itself. We have got into a habit of cluttering up all our open spaces.
“And there is the army firing ranges at Lulworth that send shells 14 miles out to sea, so I doubt who ever came up with this location had considered that.
“So perhaps the country will be saved by the army once again.
“If these things are ever put up the army can use them as target practice.”
However Chris Sherrington, director of the project for Eneco, insisted the public will be consulted.
“After comprehensively evaluating key aspects of the project in relation to wider stakeholder interests we have chosen the most suitable location for the wind park.
“This is an important milestone in the lifetime of the development of this project and enables us to look to the future and consider wider impacts such as the positive economic benefits our project could bring to the area.”
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