Refusal of planning consent for the controversial Navitus Bay wind farm has been welcomed by councils and local organisations.
The Secretary of State Greg Clark refused both the initial application for up to 194 turbines and a subsequent smaller application for up to 105 turbines off the coast of Dorset to the west of the Isle of Wight in Bournemouth Bay.
Councillor Ray Nottage, Leader of Christchurch Borough Council, said: “We are delighted with the decision made by the Secretary of State regarding the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm. We consulted with our residents some time ago as to whether they supported the idea of a wind farm and they overwhelmingly told us that they did not.
“Although we support renewable energy in any form, we have said this was not the right location for a wind farm for a number of reasons and, fortunately, the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate have agreed with us.”
Councillor Gary Suttle, leader of Purbeck District Council, said: “We are pleased that ministers have made this decision. Although the council fully supports sustainable energy, the potential adverse impacts of such a large scale development outweighed any potential benefits.”
Through the consultation process, the Council acknowledged and supported the sustainability benefits of the wind farm. However, it objected to the proposal as it considered the benefits were outweighed by the potential adverse social and environmental impacts. These were:
harm to AONB landscape;
harm to significance and setting of the heritage assets of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and Durlston Castle and Park; and
adverse impact on tourist economy.
Ian Wilson, assistant director of operations for the National Trust in the South West.said: “We always believed that this is the wrong proposal for this location and will lead to damage of a beautiful coastline.
“We commissioned our own study and found the wind park would negatively impact on these important landscapes and seascapes of nearby coastlines. Our objection was because of the impact on the beautiful coastlines of East Dorset and the Isle of Wight, including well-loved sites such as the Needles on the Isle of Wight, and Old Harry Rocks on Purbeck.
“However, the process for this development has also raised a number of other concerns which we would still like to see addressed.”
The National Trust objected to both the original Navitus Bay application and the later ‘mitigation option’ which reduced the number of turbines and scale of the wind park.
Despite its stance in relation to the Navitus Bay development, the National Trust remains committed to renewable energy that works in the location it is built.
Ian Wilson added: “We believe strongly in the need to grow renewable energy generation and wean ourselves off fossil fuels, but it has to be in the right place at the right scale. We could not support the location and scale of the original plan put forward by Navitus Bay Development Ltd so close to National Trust land and the World Heritage Site.
“We also have a number of concerns about the way the process of site selection ran originally and the subsequent planning process. We feel strongly that the original zone chosen for a possible development should have been considered more carefully because of its close proximity to important coastlines, including the World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast.
“We were also concerned that the developer had no obligations to specify the number and size of turbines at any stage and that the revised application for the smaller scheme has come forward so late in the day and yet was deemed admissible to run in parallel with the original proposal.”
The National Trust says it believes that offshore wind should make an important contribution to the country’s renewable energy targets, but it has to be in the right place at the right scale. The National Trust has set its own target to generate 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020, including wind where appropriate.
However, the Green MEP for the South West has a different view.
Dr Scott Cato said: “Opponents have argued that Navitus Bay would threaten the Jurassic Coast. The rising sea levels and storm surges associated with climate change are a far greater threat to this wonderful coastline. Projects like Navitus help to reduce the carbon emissions responsible for changing the planet’s climate.”
Stuart Grant, project director at Navitus Bay, said: “While we are clearly disappointed by today’s decision, we would like to thank the communities of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and all our stakeholders for the high level of engagement they’ve shown in the project, including their responses to our consultations and during the examination process. During the past five years the project team has carried out comprehensive stakeholder and community consultation.
“We will now discuss the options available with our shareholders and update stakeholders in due course.”
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