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Plans for the controversial Navitus Bay wind farm off the Dorset coast are due to come back before inspectors – with the developer’s ‘Plan B’ set to be a hot topic.
Further hearings are due to take place later this month as the planning process nears its conclusion.
On Thursday, January 22, one session is due to look at Navitus Bay Development Ltd’s ‘mitigation option’, a smaller plan put forward in Nov-ember.
That would see a maximum of 105 turbines, 11 miles out to sea at their closest point, rather than the 194 that are proposed in the original plan.
Navitus was criticised by opposition groups for submitting the scaled-down scheme during the Planning Inspectorate’s examination of the first, bigger, plan.
Today is the deadline for interested parties to make submissions on whether Plan B amounts to a material change and should be considered as a new project.
Navitus Bay project director, Mike Unsworth, said: “We remain committed to our original proposal and believe it strikes the right balance between benefits and impacts. However, as part of the examination phase we have submitted plans for a mitigation option, which introduces a turbine exclusion area within the boundary of the original proposal, thereby reducing certain impacts of the scheme.”
Mr Unsworth said that NBDL had “every confidence in our original proposal”, which he said would inject £1.62 billion into the area’s economy and create at least 1,700 jobs.
But Philip Dewhurst, spokesman for opposition organisation Poole and Christchurch Bays Association, which represents 50 residents’ groups, said the mitigation option was “radically different” and should be a new application.
He added: “The developer should be made to undertake a new consultation process. Many thought the original process was inadequate and made use of misleading visuals.
“Given the overwhelming opposition from councils, MPs, public and NGOs to this scheme, these sensitivities should be recognised and a new planning process undertaken.”
Angela Pooley, from East Dorset Friends of the Earth, which is supporting the scheme, said: “Navitus submitted the revised plans at the request of the Planning Inspectorate and therefore should be considered as part of the current inspection.
To submit a new application would further delay a decision – something the opposition are hoping for – at a time when we should be investing in renewable technology.”
The hearings take place at the Highcliff Marriott Hotel, St Michael’s Road, Bournemouth, and the examination closes on March 11.
Full details are on the Planning Inspectorate website.
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