The world’s biggest wind farm is being planned for the South Coast of England.
The 200 turbines would earn Dutch company Eneco billions of pounds in Government subsidies. Critics say they will ruin coastal views, while yachtsmen warn they could cause crashes.
The Royal Yacht Squadron, the prestigious sailing club whose patron is the Queen, has written to 200 sailing clubs on the Isle of Wight and along the South Coast to call for action against the development, named Navitus Bay.
The Cowes-based club, which is headed by the Duke of Edinburgh, fears the wind farm could ruin sailing from the Isle of Wight to the South-West, including the famous Fastnet Race.
Navitus Bay, which is still in the public consultation phase, would be three times bigger than any existing wind farms, covering an area the size of Glasgow in the English Channel between Swanage, in Dorset, and the Isle of Wight.
A report from Eneco suggests its turbines could be just eight miles from the coast and as high as 670ft. In comparison, the Gherkin skyscraper in London is 591ft tall.
The firm’s only wind farm in its home country of the Netherlands is twice as far away from the shore, and its turbines are only 320ft high.
Its English project – which could affect the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and East Devon, a designated World Heritage Site – would land it a quarter of a billion pounds a year in taxpayer-funded grants, which were introduced by the Labour government to encourage renewable energy schemes.
Chris Mason, of the Royal Yacht Squadron, said the wind farm was ‘definitely a hazard and definitely a problem for sailors’.
Stuart Quarrie, head of the Cowes Week regatta on the Isle of Wight, added: ‘Although in theory you can plan to avoid it, in reality sailing boats can’t always go in straight lines, and they zig-zag at 45 degrees to the wind direction so may crash into it.
‘There will be many concrete turbines and if the tide wooshes you into one, it could cause a lot of damage. It will take a lot of planning to ensure that pleasure craft don’t crash into it.’
Chris Radford, of the Challenge Navitus campaign group, said: ‘This could damage an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a World Heritage site and a great public amenity.
‘There are also potentially damaging effects on tourism, safe navigation, diving and fishing interests.’
The dispute is the latest to centre on a wind farm. Last week, it emerged that another controversial development is planned for Thornton Moor, Yorkshire, which inspired Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Eneco said its south coast project – which is expected to cost £3billion to build, with a lifespan of 25 years – would create jobs as well as sustainable electricity to power up to 800,000 homes.
It claimed the majority of its turbines would be at least 12 miles from shore in waters between 100 and 150ft deep.
Guy Madgwick, managing director of Eneco’s UK division, said: ‘We are now in the consultation phase which will run to the end of next year.
‘Eneco takes community consultation and community opinion very seriously.’