Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns has called on culture minister Ed Vaizey to protect the Dorset coast from the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Mr Burns said the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site was under threat from the development.
“I believe that if the Jurassic coast were to lose its designated status as a world heritage site, the tourism economy throughout Dorset would suffer drastically,” he said.
He cited the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which advises UNESCO, which had stated that “the impact of the project on the visitors’ experience and appreciation of the property in its wider natural setting is likely to be significant”.
The IUCN has also said that the environmental impact statement prepared by Navitus had used the wrong guidance.
“The debate is about a proposal that my constituents and those of my hon. friends fundamentally believe is the wrong proposal in the wrong place. Its demerits vastly outweigh its merits,” said Mr Burns, who was supported in the house by Christchurch MP Christopher Chope, Dorset South MP Richard Drax and Poole MP Robert Syms.
Mr Vaizey said his department was “not shy” in defending the interests of UK World Heritage Sites, but said that although some reservations had been expressed by English Heritage and Natural England, UNESCO currently regarded the Jurassic Coast as not threatened.
“The proposed wind farm development has not to date been examined by the world heritage committee, so neither the world heritage committee nor UNESCO has an official view on the potential impact of the Navitus bay site on the world heritage site,” he said.
He said the IUCN was only an advisory body and its views were not those of UNESCO.
Mr Drax said he was “incredulous” that Navitus Bay’s developer had paid for the environmental assessment. Mr Vaizey said it was “normal practice” for an applicant to pay for the assessment which was “effectively done at arm’s length”.
Mr Chope said that the Crown Estate was not in favour of moving the planned turbines further away from the coast as outside the 12-mile limit it would “not get any money for it”.
The minister said he was sure the estate would take into account its wider responsibilities to local communities.
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