The Government has announced a move away from renewable energy as work begins on the £1.3 billion Rampion offshore windfarm.
The country will be increasingly reliant on gas-powered plants in the future after it was announced last week all coal stations will close by 2025.
Yet with work beginning in earnest on one of Sussex’s largest engineering feats with the 116-turbine windfarm, opponents of the project are asking whether the “blight on our landscape” will be worth it.
Bernie Goodwin, from the Stop Rampion Windfarm campaign, said: “It is ridiculous, it should never have been allowed in the first place.
“It will be a blight on our landscape, wind power isn’t even that efficient and now the Government is looking towards gas instead.
“There was so much opposition to it but those who make the decisions never listen.
“The view from Brighton will be ruined and it really is not worth it. They will regret it.”
The 116-turbine windfarm is being constructed eight miles off the Worthing, Shoreham and Brighton coast.
The facility, which will be visible from Birling Gap in the east to Worthing in the west, is expected to be up and running in 2018.
In recent weeks the National Park has been dug up and the seabed cleared as workers prepare to lay the cables for the E.ON project.
But just last week Amber Rudd, secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change, announced the country would instead focus on gas-powered stations for future energy supply.
In recent months the Hastings and Rye MP has also presided over the scrapping of subsidies for renewable energy projects leading critics to claim the government has neglected its commitment to green energy.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, branded Ms Rudd’s announcement last week as “short-sighted”.
She added: “It compounds the utter failure of this government’s energy policy.
“Coal fired power stations are being shut down too slowly and, perversely, they’re being replaced by a new wave of high carbon gas power stations.
“In the run up to the crucial Paris climate talks in December ministers are showing their true colours. Support for nuclear and gas is growing- while help for renewable energy firms, and the thousands of jobs they create, is being slashed.”
Simon Bullock, from Friends of The Earth, said ministers risk undoing a lot of good work if they continue down the same path.
He said: “The Government has done a lot over the last five years to promote renewables but it feels like they are now neglecting them.
“They are cutting subsidies too soon and by too much and are risking undoing all their good work.
“At the same time they are pushing for nuclear and in particular gas. While gas has a part to play, renewables is the future and offshore wind such as Rampion is key.
“The cost of renewables will continue to go down so we must keep pressing ahead and it is so important we have projects such as Rampion opening shortly.”
Ms Lucas agreed, stating Rampion must get up and running as soon as possible, regardless of what direction the Government decides to take.
She said: “Investing in renewables and energy conservation would be far more effective economically, environmentally and in terms of energy security. That’s why it’s so vital that projects like the Rampion Wind Farm go ahead – and begin supplying us with clean energy as soon as possible.”
£1.3BN ENGINEERING SCHEME MAY BE LARGEST EVER TO HAVE BEEN UNDERTAKEN IN COUNTY
TWO diggers scooping up the sodden earth by the side of a farmer’s field may not appear an event of any significance.
But the workmen inside these two orange machines are in fact embarking on perhaps the biggest engineering feat Sussex has ever seen.
Energy giant E.ON is investing a staggering £1.3bn in the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, which will be situated eight miles off the Sussex coast.
But with the Government seemingly going cold on renewable energy, is Rampion likely to be something of a rarity in the UK?
Simon Bullock, from Friends of The Earth, thinks not.
He said: “Wind has a huge part to play in the future of energy in this country.
“The cost of renewable energy is going down each year as it is used more and more and there is only one way to go.”
He explained that with more people investing in renewables, more people are producing the necessary equipment and parts and production and technology is getting better and cheaper.
He added: “It’s the same with anything, when the first laptops came out they were ridiculously expensive but look at them now.”
Once complete, Rampion’s 116 turbines will be able to provide enough electricity to supply the equivalent of around 300,000 homes.
Eight miles out at sea, the turbines will be visible right along the Sussex coast from Birling Gap in the east to Worthing in the west. In the last few weeks construction has started in earnest with workers focusing on preparing the route for the cables which will connect the turbines to the grid at Twineham, near Burgess Hill.
The trenching work is being carried out along a 16 and a half mile stretch starting at Upper Brighton Road, Worthing, where the cable will hit land.
The work is being carried out in 12 stages starting at the substation. The route runs along Bob Lane, Twineham, and passes Herring Stream before running by Woodmancote and the A281.
It then crosses three streams before reaching Horn Lane near Henfield. It runs along Edburton Road before reaching Tottington Mount, the South Downs Way and then Beeding Hill.
After passing Coombes Road, south of Bramber, it crosses the River Adur and goes down to Lambleys Lane and the A27 – between Sompting and Broadwater.
It then goes down to the seafront at Brooklands Pleasure Park.
Although there is no sign yet of the turbines, work has started out at sea with experts clearing boulders on the seabed along the cable route.
Going out daily in six ships, the workers are also making sure the 116 turbine foundation positions are clear and safe.
Chris Tomlinson, E.ON development manager for the project, talked through the painstaking process.
He said: “Assessment of the number of boulders is still underway but is likely to be in the thousands and up to six vessels are on site to undertake the work over the next many months.
“Great efforts will be made to replicate the seabed as it is now and all boulders moved will be weighed and the new position recorded.
“Details of the new positions of the boulders will be made freely available to sea users.
“We will continue to issue Notices to Mariners to keep sea users informed of these works.”
Construction is also being carried out on the substation at Twineham which will connect the power generated some 16 and a half miles away.
Such is the scale of the project up to 300 jobs will be created in the three years it will take.
Once up and running 65 full time jobs will be available at the operations and maintenance base, which will be at Newhaven Port.
As well as powering 300,000 homes, E.ON bosses expect Rampion to reduce C02 emissions by up to 600,000 tonnes a year.
Mr Bullock said: “The sooner it is up and running the better. “Wind is going to play an increasingly important part in our energy supply as we go forward and Rampion can be an example for others.
“The government may be talking about gas and nuclear but renewables are the future and Rampion will be proof of that.”
MP ‘A DISAPPOINTMENT’
WHEN David Cameron made Amber Rudd Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in May, environmentalists breathed a collective sigh of relief.
She had spoken passionately about renewables and tackling global warning and appeared to be the MP to make us a shining example to other world powers.
But in the six months she has been in the job, Ms Rudd MP, pictured right, has been a disappointment to many.
Not only has she presided over a series of cuts for support in renewables, last week she announced the Government’s increased focus on gas.
Caroline Lucas criticised her fellow MP, calling her latest move “short-sighted” and described her energy policy as an “utter failure”.
John Sauven, head of Greenpeace, said her policies would destroy the UK renewables industry, while Kyla Mandel, deputy editor of the DeSmog UK group, said the Hastings and Rye MP had failed to seize a golden opportunity.
Lambasting her focus on shale gas and nuclear energy, she said Rudd’s approach, along with the Government’s, is to say very little and say the same thing over and over again.
This all comes as Ms Rudd is set to represent the Government at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this month.
However, Simon Bullock, from Friends of the Earth, believes Ms Rudd is committed to tackling climate change.
He said: “I think she is, I think she wants to take action on climate change but the problem is she is very much controlled by the Treasury.
“Those at the Treasury are very much hostile to renewables and instead pro gas and pro fracking. So she is up against that.
“I think there are also a lot of Conservative backbenchers with a lot of influence on policy who perhaps have the mindset of five years ago. That is a real problem.”
Ms Rudd has defended her and her Government’s green credentials.
She said earlier this week, “Our determination to cut carbon emissions as cost effectively as possible is crystal clear and this step (closing coal power stations and opening gas-powered plants) will make us one of the first developed countries to commit to taking coal off our system.”
She has also won praise in recent months for trying to redress the belief that green policies are “left-wing”.
She said: “I can understand the suspicion of those who see climate action as some sort of cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism.
“But it was Margaret Thatcher who first put climate change on the international agenda. She said: ‘The danger of global warming is real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.’ I agree.”
Born in London, Ms Rudd has lived in Hastings Old Town since 2007. She worked in finance and investment banking prior to being voted in back in 2010 and is now one of David Cameron’s close allies in the cabinet.
She is divorced from restaurant critic and writer A.A Gill with whom she has two children.
The Argus approached Ms Rudd MP for interview but she had not responded by the time of publication.
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