Proposals to build Rampion 2 – an extension to the existing Rampion wind farm – were the subject of a successful Development Consent Order (DCO) application. The plans will now be examined by the UK Government’s planning inspectorate.
CPRE Sussex said it ‘backs an urgent move’ to renewable energy sources and, ‘in principle, would be supportive of the sensitive expansion’ of the Rampion offshore wind farm.
However, it has raised ‘major concerns’ over how the public consultation ‘has been run’ and the ‘impact on landscape and nature’ of onshore cabling and grid connection works.
The charity described the consultation as ‘poor’ and accused the developers of having ‘a lack of respect’ for the surrounding environment.
Campaign group Protect Coastal Sussex also expressed serious concerns over the £3bn project, claiming that the development would be a ‘silent ecosystem killer’.
CPRE Sussex director Paul Steedman said: “We need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy as fast as possible and offshore wind can be a big part of that.
“It is therefore particularly disappointing that the applicant for Rampion 2 has done such a poor job of engaging with local people and appears to favour convenience of engineering over respect for the environment.”
The Rampion 2 Project Team has since issued a statement, in response.
A spokesperson said: “We have carried out a huge programme of engagement and consultation over the past three years, and have subsequently made changes to the project proposals in response to feedback from statutory consultees and the Sussex community, who we thank for their input. Our final cable route has taken this feedback into account to best meet the needs of local communities, wildlife and the environment.
“Consultation on the Rampion 2 Offshore Wind Farm started in January 2021, followed by a nine-week statutory project-wide consultation launched in July 2021, promoted by a huge publicity campaign which attracted 12,500 visits to the project website hosting the consultation proposals.
“Following extensive feedback from local communities and interest groups, a further statutory onshore consultation was launched in October 2022 to explore potential cable route alternatives and modifications, which were driven by public feedback combined with ongoing engineering and environmental assessments. Details of our consultations can be found here, https://rampion2.com/dco-2023-overview/.
“We have assessed the potential impacts and mitigations of our proposals on an array of issues such as traffic, landscape and wildlife, which are set out in our environmental statement.
“The electricity cables will be buried underground, and the Rampion 2 team is committed to reinstate the land back to its former condition as soon as possible after the works, which includes a ten-year monitoring plan to ensure successful reinstatement.”
The charity has called for the consultation process to be ‘halted and restarted’ to ensure all affected communities have a ‘clear opportunity to see detailed plans’.
Responding to the planning inspectorate consultation on the plans, CPRE Sussex ‘raised several concerns’ including: landowners and managers ‘not being correctly notified of plans’; a lack of ‘balanced and effective’ communication with local communities; ‘difficulties communicating’ with the proposers of Rampion 2; ‘needlessly destructive and disruptive’ onshore works and a ‘lack of information about the impact’ on the historic village of Cowfold.
Mr Steedman added: “It is with an intense sense of disappointment that we object to these proposals. It would not have been difficult for those behind Rampion 2 to do better on several aspects of the proposal.”
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