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Two billion pound wind farm goes back to Planning Inspectorate

Proposals for a £2billion pound wind farm off the coast of Shoreham have been formally re-submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

E.On’s bid for the hugely-significant Rampion scheme, which could effectively provide power for the whole of the county, suffered a setback when it was forced to withdraw its initial application in early January after realising it had not completed aspects of the application.

The revision of the plans, that would involve up to 150 turbines generating 700 megawatts of power, follow an extensive series of public consultation meetings held last summer.

Chris Tomlinson, E.On project director of the Rampion scheme, said he “welcomed the decision that it has been accepted for consideration,” adding that the company was looking forward to unveiling its revised plans further.

While considerable optimism has been expressed regarding its potential economic benefits including supply contracts and infrastructure improvements, some residents had voiced concern over the potential environmental and visual impact of the plans.

This prompted E.On to reconsider its draft proposals in light of feedback, with a reduction in the number and scale of turbines being anticipated.

Having received the proposals, the Planning Inspectorate has decided they are suitable to be formally considered by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The plans have received broad political support, with East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton believing the scheme would bring valuable jobs and investment into the area.

His views were shared by Worthing Liberal Democrat county councillor Bob Smytherman, who stated his party had given its full backing to the proposals.

As part of the proposals, a cable route from the coast to a new power substation near Bolney in Mid Sussex would be created.

This may require compulsory purchase orders being placed on part of land at Brooklands Pleasure Park, which is one of the few remaining open spaces on the coast.

There is not expected to be a final decision on whether the scheme will gain formal consent until summer 2014.

During the formal examination period, there will be a chance for residents to register as an interested party and make written statements on the application.

The acceptance to proceed decision and a copy of the application can be viewed at the Rampion offshore wind farm project page on the Planning Inspectorate, National Infrastructure Directorate’s website. www.planningportal.gov.uk/infrastructure or call the National Infrastructure Directorate helpline: 0303 444 5000.