A ‘stealth consultation’ on proposals for a new wind farm off the West Sussex coast has been slammed by residents.
A nine-week public consultation on plans for the expansion of the Rampion offshore wind farm runs until September 16. The new plans could see 325-metre-high turbines – the same height as the Eiffel Tower and taller than the highest peak of the South Downs – installed and a new 11-acre sub station built in Bolney.
Scores of people attended community-led meetings in Littlehampton and Middleton-on-Sea last week. A further meeting was due to be held by Middleton-on-Sea parish council tonight (September 1).
Middleton resident Melanie Jones said: “You won’t be able to get away from it. It’s like something out of War of the Worlds. I would advise Rampion to take a step back, have a breather and regroup. The proposals are very empty and vague.
“It feels like we are the guinea pigs. Why should we have to be an experiment? I am not against wind turbines but I am absolutely astounded that this is going ahead.”
Ms Jones also questioned the timing and length of the consultation. “Everyone has been in lockdown so it seems an odd time.” she said. “We haven’t got long to comment and every individual comment counts.
“This is such a life changing project it is difficult to see how it can be fairly understood within a short time frame and with no discussion to give it fair engagement with the public.”
Another Middleton resident, Guy Raven, said ‘one of the major threads of the meeting’ was how ‘hollow the so-called consultation was proving to be’. He added the September 16 deadline signalled an ‘extraordinarily short window’. given the ‘lack of publicity’.
Gerry Easter, from Elmer, said it was a ‘lively meeting’ because of the ‘outrage felt about Rampion’s stealth consultation’. He added: “I feel pretty fed up about the shoddy way we have been treated by the developers and the low key, virtually invisible public consultation.”
Gary Thompson, who lives near Bognor Regis, said the consultation process felt ‘under the radar and rushed’.
“Rampion said they had planned to write to everyone within 100 metres of the coast,” he said. “That seems to be ridiculous as it going to affect everybody in this particular region.
“I live 200 metres from the coast, a bit further over in Bognor. Why wouldn’t I be told and consulted? It just seems heartbreaking.”
The team behind the proposals, German energy group RWE, is urging people to have their say.
Chris Tomlinson, development and stakeholder manager, said: “We have held public forums, meetings with dozens of local parish councils, MPs, interest groups and specialists, including environmental groups, archaeologists, sea users, business and tourism operators, public rights of way and many more, to try and identify all the issues that should be considered in our designs.
“We have also held outdoor events talking with people in coastal towns and villages in East and West Sussex and have received a huge amount of feedback from people who understand the importance of creating clean, renewable energy in the face of climate change, as well as a lot of important information that will help shape the project to mitigate its impact on local communities.”
Should Rampion 2 achieve consent, construction could start around 2025/26 with the wind farm fully operational before the end of the decade.
Visit Rampion2.com to see the proposals.
Will the wind farm deter or attract tourists?
Meanwhile, claims that the new wind farm would deter tourists have been questioned by council leaders.
At the public meeting in Littlehampton last Tuesday, campaigners claimed that 2,800 jobs will be lost in West Sussex, including 1,000 in the Arun district, due to the impact Rampion 2 would have on tourism.
Shaun Gunner, the Conservative leader of Arun District Council, attended the event at The Manor House.
In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “Can anyone provide evidence on the impact on, e.g, Brighton? Not sure they are struggling for tourists.”
The leader of Worthing Borough Council, Daniel Humphreys, said there was ‘no evidence’ that Rampion 1 had an affect on tourism.
Deputy leader Kevin Jenkins echoed that claim. He wrote: “No evidence of negativity, it could provide an opportunity for Littlehampton harbour businesses. Sounds like a lot of ‘hot air’ about nothing.”
Readers share their views
Residents from across West Sussex have been having their say on the new wind farm proposals.
Some have echoed concerns from campaigners that Rampion 2 would ‘deter tourists’, whilst others argued the opposite.
Jasmin Barnicoat wrote on Twitter: “If anything it has given something extra to the area with people wanting to go on the wind farm tour boats. I’ve never heard of someone not visiting the area because of the wind farm?!”
Commenting on Facebook, Helen Redfern said the turbines are ‘great’, adding: “They’re the future!
“They have them all over the hills in Cornwall and it doesn’t stop tourists.”
Suzanne James wrote: “They look fabulous and seeing something positive on the horizon line should give us hope.”
Simon Redhead agreed. He said: “We are in a climate crisis. We need to lose fossil fuel power stations within four years! These provide clean energy. I love them, they don’t ruin the view.”
Emma Cameron argued that ‘we should be celebrating’ these plans, adding: “We desperately need more clean energy to help bring down carbon emissions, otherwise we’re heading for even worse climate chaos.”
Carolyn Harrison, on the contrary, said the turbines are ‘an eyesore already’ and it ‘ruins the beauty of the sea and horizon view’.
Janice Betson shared the view that the turbines are ‘eyesores’, whilst also being ‘lethal for birds’.