UNESCO has warned that plans for a wind farm of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast could compromise its status as a World Heritage Site.
The organisation has waded into the row over a controversial wind farm, writing an explosive letter to Whitehall outlining serious concerns about the project.
UNESCO also stressed that Britain could be in breach of the World Heritage Convention, which dictates that individual countries have a duty to ensure the ‘identification, protection, conservation and presentation’ of their World Heritage Site.
The director of UNESCO ends the letter by urging the relevant authorities to take the comments into account when deciding to grant the wind farm permission.
While it wasn’t outlined in the letter, some experts claim that if the wind farm goes ahead, the Jurassic Coast could be placed on UNESCO’s endangered list, meaning its status is in serious jeopardy.
The letter has been sent to the Department for Culture Media and Sport, which is responsible for managing England’s only natural World Heritage Site.
Earlier this year the department wrote to UNESCO, claiming the government-backed wind farm, called Navitus Bay, won’t impact on the Jurassic Coast.
The body then commissioned its own advisory body, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to look further into the matter and the letter is the result of the report.
In his strongly-worded letter, Kishore Rao, the director of UNESCO, wrote: ‘IUCN considers the project will have a significant impact on the natural setting of the property, in that it would adversely impact on important views.
‘The project would replace the Isle of Wight as the dominant feature on the horizon.
‘This is likely to significantly impact on visitors’ experience and appreciation of the property which could compromise the long term sustainability of the management of the property through loss of revenue.
‘Any potential impacts on this natural property are in contradiction to the overarching principal of the World Heritage Convention as the completion of the project would result in the property being presented to future generations in a form significantly different from what was there at the time of inscription until today.
‘The property will change from being located in a natural setting largely free from human-made structures to one where its setting is dominated by human-made structures.’
Navitus Bay would cover an area of 59 square miles, consist of 194, 600ft tall turbines and be positioned 8.8 miles off Durlston Head, near Swanage, Dorset, from where it will cover 45 per cent of the horizon.
The turbines will generate enough energy to power 710,000 homes.
Enco Wind UK and the French company EDF Energy Renewables are behind Navitus Bay and they have recently submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate.
Local tourism chiefs have predicted a 14 per cent drop in tourism, equating to one billion pounds, as a result of the presence of the wind farm.
At a recent public meeting held to discuss the proposed development there was overwhelming opposition to it.
Dr Andrew Langley, of campaign group Challenge Navitus, has welcomed UNESCO’s intervention.
He said: ‘We think this letter is a very significant step in the whole process.
‘We have been stating the impact Navitus Bay will have on the Jurassic Coast for over two years now and this letter confirms that our concerns are real.
‘The government will be under pressure to respond accordingly.’
Malcolm Turnbull was the lead officer for Dorset County Council for the World Heritage bid in 2001.
He said: ‘The IUCN isn’t mincing its words on what they believe the impact will be.
‘Their report really focuses on the significant impact on the natural setting of the site which is what we have been saying for a long time.’
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