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Wind farm protests: thousands have say on Navitus Bay

Thousands of people have registered to have their say over the wind farm planned for the Dorset coast.

It is thought to be a record figure for such a scheme, as controversy continues to rage over the proposed Navitus Bay development, which could see as many as 194 wind turbines as high as 200m placed off the coast, nine miles from Swanage.

The deadline to become an interested party with the Planning Inspectorate, which will make the decision on the plans, has now passed.

Around 2,700 registrations have been made, thought to be far higher than for any other offshore wind project, and all are now available to view on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

Weymouth and Portland councillors are among those adding concerns to the Planning Inspectorate.

While the wind farm could boost the economy by millions and create hundreds of jobs, including potential spin-offs for Weymouth and Portland, concerns have been expressed about a range of issues including the visual impact, threats to boating and fishing and the potential impact on the area’s tourism industry.

Environmental designations could also be affected including the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the setting of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

A recent report to the borough’s planning committee said Weymouth and Portland would be unaffected by any visual impact of the scheme.

It stated: “While it is not considered that there is significant harm to the West Dorset or Weymouth and Portland areas, it is essential that the potential impacts of the Area of Outstanding natural Beauty and World Heritage Coast setting are very carefully considered as part of the examination process.”

Some groups are supporting the project including East Dorset Friends of the Earth.

Co-ordinator Angela Pooley said: “Wind farms aren’t the total answer to providing sustainable energy, but they are part of the solution.

“Therefore we hope that Navitus Bay wind farm gets approval.”

DORSET County Council has decided to cease negotiations with the developers of the Navitus Bay wind farm over a lease to enable cabling work for the project.

Officers had been in discussions with a view to granting a lease to enable cabling for the proposed offshore wind farm to run under the council-owned trailway at Avon Heath Country Park.

However, after the county council voiced its objections to the Navitus Bay scheme, members of its cabinet agreed that it would be inconsistent to continue with discussions.

Cabinet member for corporate resources Robert Gould said: “It would not be appropriate in view of our stance on the scheme itself.”

Council leader Spencer Flower suggested that if the Navitus Bay scheme was successful the developers would have to look at the a compulsory purchase if they wished to pursue their plans for the cabling.