Objectors have voiced their disappointment that the ‘plan B’ for Dorset’s wind farm proposals will not be considered as a new scheme in its own right.
Those opposed had hoped Navitus Bay Development Ltd (NBDL) would be made to submit a new planning application for its scaled-down ‘mitigation option’ rather than having it considered as an amendment to the existing scheme.
Planning inspectors agree that the revised scheme is a “material change” but not enough to require a new application.
They are allowing extra time for interested parties to make representations.
Although NBDL says it remains committed to its original plans, which involve a maximum of 194 turbines up to 200m high, it has proposed a smaller development of 105 turbines, 11 miles from shore rather than nine.
Mike Unsworth, below, project director for Navitus, said: “We are pleased that the Planning Inspectorate has agreed to consider our alternative option for fewer turbines, further offshore, as part of our original planning application. While this proposal provides a second option for consideration in that process, it does not replace our original proposal.”
He said either scheme would make an important contribution to the local economy and the UK’s renewable energy targets.
Bournemouth West MP, Conor Burns, one of several MPs to make representations against the plans, tweeted to say that it was “very disappointing that Planning Inspectorate has ignored the views of elected MPs to allow Navitus to sneak their insurance policy in”.
Roy Pointer, chairman of opposition group Poole and Christchurch Bays Association, said: “We are baffled at the decision, which flies in the face of democratic consultation. A huge number of respondents – including councils, MPs, NGOs and residents’ groups – strongly urged that Plan B should be subject to a fresh application and full consultation process.”
Leader of Bourne-mouth Borough Council, Cllr John Beesley, added: “The magnitude of the scheme – even in a slightly reduced form – will have substantial impacts on our beautiful bay, tourism industry and local economy. We are pleased that the Planning Inspectorate will consider the ‘Turbine Area Mitigation Option’ based on the likely worst impacts of the development.
“While the negative impacts of the wind farm and the £100 million annual loss to our local tourism businesses undoubtedly remain, the positive impacts of the scheme in terms of job creation and clean energy generation are significantly reduced – the latter by 35 per cent.
“We firmly believe that the negative impacts of EDF and Eneco’s Navitus Bay wind farm far outweigh any benefits.”
Angela Pooley, from East Dorset Friends of the Earth, said: “While we still fully support the original plans, East Dorset FoE welcomes this sensible decision by the Planning Inspectorate and trusts that the same common sense prevails and their final decision will be for the wind farm to go ahead.”
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