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Navitus Bay campaigners welcome decision to scrap Devon wind farm

News that plans to build a huge wind farm off the coast of Devon have been scrapped was welcomed today by a group campaigning against the proposed Navitus Bay development off the coast of Bournemouth.

The Poole & Christchurch Bays Association, representing 50 coastal residents’ associations, has called on the government to pull the plug on the controversial plans, which could see 200 giant turbines sited close to Bournemouth’s beaches and the prized UNESCO site at Swanage.

“At last some sanity has returned to energy policy” said PCBA spokesman Philip Dewhurst.

“These giant offshore wind farms are too big, too close to shore and too damaging to local jobs in tourism. Now it seems that people have realised that they are also hugely expensive and, if built, will force up energy bills for householders and businesses alike.”

The Navitus Bay development has seen strong opposition from local MPs, councillors and residents’ groups.

“Hopefully the good news from Devon will also see the end of the Navitus Bay project, so that future generations can enjoy our uniquely beautiful cliffs and beaches” said Mr Dewhurst.

Financial concerns seem to be behind the decision by the German-owned RWE npower to pull the plug on the 240-turbine Atlantic Array project.

The scheme had drawn criticism from environmentalists who were worried about its impact on marine wildlife in the Bristol Channel and campaigns who have branded the project for 720-ft high turbines as unsightly.

Paul Cowling, director of offshore wind at RWE Innogy, told the Guardian: ”This is not a decision we have taken lightly; however, given the technological challenges and market conditions, now is not the right time for RWE to continue to progress with this project.”

It is not known if any other firm will take over the project which would have powered hundreds of thousands of homes in the region.

Mr Cowling claimed that RWE is still backing offshore wind and would be pressing ahead with other projects off Britain’s coastline.

Richard Sandford, head of European projects offshore at RWE, also denied that the Atlantic Array was dropped as part of a money saving drive at the company.

He told the Guardian: ”This really is project-specific and not at all down to other considerations. We are still proceeding with schemes like Galloper and Triton Knoll, off the east coast of the country.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman told the BBC the scrapping of the scheme was a matter for the developer, but the decision ”was made on purely technical grounds and reflects the many complex challenges of constructing offshore windfarms”.