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Rampion south coast wind farm plan reduced

Plans for a wind farm in the English Channel have been reduced because of concerns about the impact on views from the South Downs National Park.

The number of turbines has been cut by 20, to a maximum of 175, in a revised scheme submitted to the government.

The proposed Rampion offshore wind farm would be visible from the national park and resorts including Brighton.

Energy company E.On said it had listened to concerns expressed in 1,500 responses to a public consultation.

“What E.On has said is helpful,” said a spokesman for the South Downs Society.

The original application, withdrawn in January, was for up to 195 turbines eight miles off the Sussex coast between Peacehaven and Worthing.

‘Less visible’

The new plans feature between 100 and 175 turbines, which E.On said would generate enough electricity to power two thirds of the homes in Sussex.

The area of the wind farm has been reduced by a quarter, making it less visible from the heritage coast between Seaford and Eastbourne.

Underground cabling will pass through the national park from Worthing to a new electrical sub station at Bolney, in West Sussex, while up to 85 jobs will be created at an operational and maintenance base at Newhaven Port.

The Crown Estate awarded E.ON the licence for the Rampion wind farm in January 2010.

E.On development manager Chris Tomlinson said 5,000 people attended a series of exhibitions about the wind farm.

He said the company listened to the concerns of commercial fishermen and environmental groups worried about views from the heritage coast.

Ducting for the underground cable would be installed in a trench, which would be restored within weeks.

“We are not suggesting there is never going to be any impact from a project like this,” said Mr Tomlinson.

“But this is a nationally significant infrastructure project – we have got a massive energy crisis in this country and we have got to do something about it.”

‘Guarded thumbs up’

The impact on wave heights, which surfers and water sports enthusiasts were concerned about, has also been reduced.

Robert Cheesman, chair of the South Downs Society, said campaigners would need to look carefully at the plans.

“Certainly what E.On have said is helpful,” he said.

“I hope it will alleviate some of the concerns that we had, which weren’t simply with the views from the heritage coast.

“We were also concerned about the rather complicated route that the underground cable was taking through the national park.

“But we are not opposed to the wind farm per se. It is far better out to sea than it would be in the national park itself.”

Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth said it welcomed the wind farm in principle and gave the revised plans a “guarded thumbs up”.

“We hope there is still some flexibility to lessen the impact on the heritage coast still further,” said spokesman Chris Todd.