One of the main opposition groups against the planned Navitus Bay wind farm has called for the planning process to be restarted after the developer proposed an alternative plan yesterday.
As reported by the Daily Echo, Navitus Bay Development Ltd has put forward a scaled-down scheme, which would see a maximum 105 turbines no closer than 11 miles from the shore.
But it says that it remains committed to its original proposals, which would see as many as 194 turbines. At its closest point, the first plan would be nine miles from Swanage and 13 from Bournemouth and Poole.
The scheme is currently being examined by the Planning Inspectorate, which is due to go away to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision, next year.
But Poole and Christchurch Bays Association, which represents around 50 residents’ associations across the area, says that the process should start afresh.
A spokesman for the group said: “This revised option is still far too big and too close to shore.
“As it is significantly different from the original proposal, we feel that a new planning application should be submitted and a fresh consultation undertaken. This would also help to correct the many flaws in the developer’s original consultation process, which has been widely criticised.”
The other major opposition group, Challenge Navitus, has also called for the process to be restarted.
Spokesman David Lloyd said: “Navitus Bay has not reduced the size of its proposed wind farm – it has just added an option for a smaller array as possible ‘mitigation’ for its current plan. No doubt this has been motivated by the overwhelming opposition to its current proposal and fears that it would not be approved by the government.
“We have very few details on ‘Plan B’ at the moment, but from what little we know, it should be a new application and not ‘tacked onto’ the existing examination as an option. Navitus Bay should therefore withdraw its current application before embarking on this new project.
“Even ‘Plan B’ would be a very large wind farm close a highly-sensitive coast.
“Challenge Navitus will comment more fully when details are made available.
“Concerns over the damage to marine habitats, and other environmental impacts may not be satisfied by the changes, and the onshore disruption from the cables would presumably remain the same.”
Last night, Bournemouth West MP, Conor Burns, tweeted: “I predicted this Navitus con ages ago. Local people who have watched twists and spin will not be taken in. We fight on. We fight to win.”
Cllr Mike Greene, a member of Bournemouth Borough Council’s cabinet and a central ward councillor, said he saw the move as a positive one.
He added: “It is really welcome that the developers are beginning to accept how devastating the wind farm would be for tourism and the local economy.
“The big question now is whether the proposed reduction in size would make enough of a difference to change the minds of the massive number of tourists who are telling Navitus that their wind farm would stop them coming to Bournemouth. First indications are that the answer to that is ‘no’, but we need to examine the proposal in depth to get a better idea.”
Angela Pooley, from East Dorset Friends of the Earth, which has supported the plans, added: “While East Dorset FoE continues to support the current Navitus proposals and hopes that the Planning Inspectorate recommends acceptance of these, we believe it is sensible for Navitus to submit this compromise, as the need for a move to renewables locally and globally is essential if we are to address climate change, something highlighted in this week’s IPCC Report.
“We ask all those that continue to oppose the wind farm to take time to read the report and reconsider their opposition; we owe it to future generations to reduce carbon now.”
Revealing the new plan on Thursday evening, Mike Unsworth, Navitus Bay project director, said that it had the potential to generate electricity for 700,000 UK households, would create a minimum of 1,700 jobs during construction and inject up to £1.6 billion into the economy.
Mr Unsworth added: “During the initial stages of its examination of the Navitus Bay planning application, the examining panel set up by the Planning Inspectorate asked the Navitus Bay project for further information in response to a number of questions, including if it was likely to submit a proposal with fewer turbines.
“In response, we have submitted plans for a smaller scheme with fewer wind turbines, with a capacity of 630MW. In this proposal, the nearest turbines to shore would be further away than in the original plan.
“This option does not replace the original proposal, to which we remain fully committed; however, it provides the examining panel and the Secretary of State with a second option which reduces certain impacts of the scheme.
“We believe that the original larger 970MW scheme, as well as the reduced option, would both make an important contribution to the UK’s energy mix and its renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.
“Similarly, the potential benefits both options would bring to the local economy in terms of jobs and skills would be significant.
“The Secretary of State will consider which option strikes the right balance between benefits and impacts. However, Navitus Bay continues to have confidence in its original planning application and believes it strikes the right balance and proposes sufficient measures to address any potential impacts.”
More follows later.
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