South West MPs are “renewing their battle” to protect a unique stretch of coastline from a 59-square-mile wind farm development, as they await a final verdict on plans for the site.
South Dorset MP, Richard Drax, said he hopes to remind ministers why the Navitus Bay off-shore wind park has faced so much objection from residents and conservationists before they consider giving it the go-ahead.
Significant concerns have been raised about the project, including its proximity to the Dorset coastline and the impact it will have on the area’s designation as a World Heritage Site.
Final plans have now been submitted for review by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and as campaigners await a decision, Mr Drax has seized the opportunity to instigate fresh public debate.
“I hope that because there has been so much noise made about this, the department and the Energy secretary will listen,” he said. “One of our main objections is that the site is off a highly sensitive coastline, which has got all kinds of designations, including Unesco World Heritage status and several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I have also been told that under certain atmospheric conditions the turbines could be heard from shore.
“We’re not objecting to wind-energy per se. What we object to is ruining this wonderful coastline, which we see as part of our heritage.”
The latest proposals for the Navitus Bay Wind Park – a collaboration between EDF Energy and Eneco – include plans to construct between 121 and 194 turbines in an area of the Channel measuring 59 square miles. The site is located just off the Dorset coastline and is expected to be visible right across the bay from Tennysons Monument on the Isle of Wight to St Aldhelms Head on the Jurassic Coast.
The heritage body has already expressed concerns about the development, as has Unesco, after a report published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature concluded it would have a “significant” impact on nearby views and surroundings.
But with the final plans now submitted, Mr Drax said he and fellow Dorset MPs were “renewing their battle” to put a stop to the wind park. This began with a debate in the House of Commons tonight and will continue with a meeting with the Prime Minister.
Responding to his comments, a Navitus Bay spokesman said assessments had revealed no significant environmental impact, adding that officials had engaged in extensive work with conservation organisations.
“Minimising the external impact of the scheme and maximising the local benefits is fundamental to the project,” he said.
“Navitus Bay has engaged in extensive work with the conservation organisations involved in the management of UK Heritage Sites.
“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has taken these representations on board and concluded last year that the wind park ‘would not have an undue adverse effect’ on the site’s outstanding universal value”
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