Bournemouth council claimed Navitus Bay’s “Plan B” was “unlawful” at the first of a series of issue-specific hearings.
The finer details of the wind farm plans are currently being examined at a number of in-depth hearings, which will continue this week and next week.
The first of these saw Bournemouth council argue the “mitigation option” put forward by Navitus Bay Development Limited (NBDL) earlier this month should not be considered as part of the current examination process.
This option would see no more than 105 turbines built at least 11 miles from shore – a significant reduction on its primary proposal of up to 194 turbines around nine miles from shore at Swanage and 13 from Bournemouth and Poole.
A QC speaking on behalf of the council argued the amended scheme constituted a material change and should be subject to separate consultation and examination process.
The view of the council, and of council leader John Beesley, is that it was unfair of Navitus Bay Deve,opment Limited to submit the new scheme at such a late stage and that it had not given them sufficient time to respond.
Cllr Beesley said later: “We maintain that there are currently no grounds for the Secretary of State to consider Plan B as an amendment to the current proposed wind farm.
“To justify doing so would require there to have been a technical change which led to a change in the development. All the changes made by Navitus Bay, however, relate to existing technology or data.
“If Navitus Bay wants a new scheme to be considered then it should submit a new development consent order and environmental statement.
“The detail of the new ‘mitigation option’ has only been available for a matter of days and it would be enormously difficult to adequately consider Plan B while the current DCO is being examined.”
After hearing from both sides, the examination panel said it would proceed with Plan A, but would also consider Plan B.
Other issues discussed on the first day included offshore cable installation, air quality and water quality. The hearings are being held at the Dorchester Suite of the Highcliff Marriott Hotel, St Michael’s Road.
The panel will continue to sit today and Friday if required, before recommencing next Tuesday until Friday as required.