Fears the seas off the West Wight could become a no-go area for the fishing industry were aired at a meeting between Island fishermen and developers behind the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park.
The £2 billion-plus offshore Eneco wind park is set to be just 8.7 miles south-west of The Needles and the Island coastline, and is planned to be fully operational by 2020.
It led to concern from one fisherman this week that the west of the Island would effectively be closed to commercial fishing through the combined effect of the wind farm, the possible creation of protective Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) and special small Reference Areas and existing aggregate dredging in the area.
Stuart Leather, Eneco’s principal environmental consultant, was interested to know more about the MCZ proposals but said they would be taken into consideration.
Asked whether fishing would be permitted within the wind park site once it was operational, Mr Leather said: “We don’t want it to be a non-fishing zone. Every attempt will be made to keep fishing intact but I cannot make any guarantees.”
Concerns the wind farm would displace mainland fisherman from their usual fishing grounds, drawing them into Island coastal waters, was answered by Chris Mowlam, a fisheries industry representative, who said the proposed area for the turbines was very little fished.
Mr Leather added there was anecdotal evidence of fish stocks increasing around offshore wind farms.
He said that should their plans be approved, construction work would be scheduled to avoid the breeding seasons of key species in the area.
Fishermen at Tuesday’s meeting, held at the Spyglass Inn, Ventnor, asked for a designated passage for construction vessels to avoid disrupting crab and lobster pots.
The Navitus Bay Wind Park is expected to have a production capacity of between 900MW to 1,200MW. The type and number of turbines is yet to be finalised however if 6MW turbines are used, around 200 would be needed to produce 1,200MW.
Eneco expects to submit plans in October 2013, with construction starting in 2016.
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