Official justification for building one of the world’s biggest wind farms near the Jurassic coastline World Heritage Site has been described as Orwellian “doublespeak” by a Conservative MP.
Dutch firm Eneco Wind UK, who are behind the £3.5bn Navitus Bay Wind Park along with French state generator EDF, which would see 218 turbines built offshore, affecting Dorset and Devon.
The developer is conducting a round of consultations on the project, which has already seen the maximum number of turbines scaled back from 333 to 218 and the maximum height of the turbines reduced from 210m (690ft) to 200m (655ft). The scathing criticism from Dorset Tory Richard Drax comes as conservationists and landscape campaigners nervously await a decision on the Atlantic Array, a similar scheme for 240 turbines in the Bristol channel which will be visible from the north Devon coast.
Both Torridge and North Devon councils have opposed the giant array, proposed by German firm RWE Npower Renewables, which will now be considered by the Planning Inspectorate, which is responsible for deciding large-scale infrastructure projects.
Mr Drax has written to the developers listing his objections and demanding a change of site, claiming 99% of those attending meetings opposed the facility. He claims the huge power plant will be an “eyesore plonked in the middle of our Jurassic Coast”, the equivalent of putting a wind farm on the Great Barrier Reef, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“In France, UNESCO prevented EDF from building two turbines near the Mont St Michel by creating an exclusion zone,” he added.
“I have written to UNESCO – and am hoping they will do the same for us. I simply cannot fathom why they have chosen this location – except that it is one of nine possible areas identified by the Crown Estates and is usefully shallow. It’s cheaper to erect wind turbines in shallower water.”
Eneco has said the wind farm would create jobs in addition to providing green electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes. It said the turbines would be at least 12 miles out to sea and has pledged to listen to public opinion.
Mr Drax is particularly scathing about the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which, he says, treats all objections as though they were mere obstacles to be overcome.
“The description of residents of South Dorset as “primary visual receptors” because they are the people who will be forced to look at the thing every day, defies belief,” he added.
“They actually suggest that some of the negative visual impact of the wind farm will be “mitigated” for cyclists and sailors because their attention will be partly occupied by the cycling or sailing.
“Who thinks up this stuff? It’s like the Doublethink in George Orwell’s 1984.
“The whole of the Dorset coastline will be blighted by this if it goes ahead.”
The consultation period ends on October 10 and the developers are expected to submit a planning application next year.
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