The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has expressed regret that the offshore wind turbine developer Dong Energy has issued a court injunction against a group of Norfolk fishermen.
The fishermen work in an area of the North Sea near the Wash that the Danish owned company wants to develop.
NFFO Chief Executive, Barrie Deas, said he found it “very regrettable” Dong had seen fit to “It is very regrettable that the company has seen fit to turn to the courts over an issue that should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations. Fishermen had a legitimate right to fish on their customary grounds and using a high court injunction to force them out of the way seems like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“In over 30 years, there have been very few examples in which offshore developers have resorted to the courts. We can usually sort out an amicable arrangement that compensates fishermen for losing temporary or permanent access to their fishing areas. On the whole, the fishing industry’s relationship with offshore developers – whether in the oil and gas, cables or renewables sectors – have been exemplary. It has generally been possible to establish procedures to ensure successful coexistence. It comes as a surprise that a big stick approach is now being used.
“It seems that Dong Energy has left insufficient time to reach agreement with local fishermen and there has been a regrettable breakdown in dialogue.” In December last year the NFFO called for more cooperation with the industry at the planning stages of offshore wind farm developments to avoid destruction of prime fishing grounds. The fishing industry generally has expressed concerns that the shift from onshore to offshore could have serious consequences for the fishing industry. The NFFO wants better planning and closer dialogue follows an early round of developments where poor preparation and decisions based on inadequate information placed a wind-farm development on one of the best lobster grounds in the country. In another case, inadequate information on fishing led the planners to ignore the presence of a significant amount of fishing by the under-15 metre fleet.
Dong Energy said in reply that it needed to survey near Blakeney Point as part of its plans for a wind farm, adding it had been in discussions with the fishermen but was unable to reach an agreement.
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