Energy Ministers refuse planning permission for Navitus Bay windfarm

by Search Gate staff. Published Fri 11 Sep 2015 11:43, Last updated: 2015-09-11
Government axe falls on the planned Navitus Bay windfarm
Government axe falls on the planned Navitus Bay windfarm

Energy Ministers have rejected plans for the controversial £3.5bn Navitus Bay windfarm, planned off the south coast of England.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed that planning permission had been refused for up to 194 turbines on the site that would have generated 970MW of green energy. A proposal for smaller alternative project of 105 turbines was also turned down.

In a statement, Energy Minister Lord Bourne confirmed the decision saying it supported the recommendation made by the Planning Inspectorate to refuse the application.

Stuart Grant, Project Director at Navitus Bay: “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."

The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Simon Ridley, said: “Alongside national policy and evidence of the need for the project, the views and comments from communities, particularly those near the South East coast of England who might be affected by this proposal, greatly assisted the Examining Authority in considering the overall impacts of the project.”

Navitus Bay was a 50-50 joint venture between Eneco Wind UK Ltd and EDF Energy Renewables and would have been located off the Dorset and Hampshire coasts, to the west of the Isle of Wight.

Although Bournemouth Borough Council initially voted in favour of allowing permission for the windfarm, the authority had in recent years become one of the main objectors to the scheme.

Councillors, backed by local MPs and the National Trust, claimed that Navitus Bay would have a damaging effect on tourism and jeopardised the Jurassic Coast’s World Heritage status.

Two opposition groups, Challenge Navitus and Poole and Christchurch Bays Association - made up of 50 residents' groups - have also fiercely opposed the plans, citing concerns over a host of issues, from visual impact to noise.

Following today’s announcement, a DECC Spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved.”

Search Gate revealed yesterday that Germany had for the first time overtaken the UK in installing offshore turbines and the decision to refuse the Navitus Bay project will cause further alarm across the embattled renewable energy industry.

Andy Taylor, Vice President Energy at Schneider Electric commented: “The curtailment of an infrastructure project at such a late stage is disappointing. The investment of time and resource in pre-planning and design work will have been significant, as the rights to develop this Round 3 wind farm were awarded in 2010. This curtailment could act as a hammer blow to future infrastructure projects, by sending very mixed messages to investors.

“New sources of renewable energy production must be encouraged to ensure we avoid a future energy crunch. The margin of available capacity at the National Grid sat at 6.1% in 2014 and this is set to reduce even further, raising concerns over blackouts and possible rationing in winter months. Just 9.5% of the UK’s electricity was generated by on and offshore wind in 2014. Yet, much more green energy production is possible.

“Navitus Bay would have created a sea load of renewable energy for the south coast. All indications put the predicted figure for generated electricity at 3.0 terawatt hours (TWh) per year. That is enough to power 700,000 UK households. And, would have ensured that approximately 1,290,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide were offset."

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said: “It’s deeply disappointing that Navitus Bay has been refused consent. This is a missed opportunity as it means we’re failing to capitalise on the UK’s superb offshore wind resource and the economic benefits it brings. Years of hard work and significant investment went into developing this project which could have added £1.6 billion to the economy of the region and created up to 1,700 jobs – it’s most unfortunate that that has now been lost.

“The offshore wind industry is still determined to deliver the substantial pipeline of projects in UK waters which includes more than 5 gigawatts of operational capacity and over 13GW with planning permission. We’re making good progress in driving down costs while the prices of imported conventional fuels remain volatile. We’re also bringing real economic benefits with 13,000 jobs and inward investment of over £1 billion last year."

Greenpeace Chief Scientist Dr Doug Parr added: "While David Cameron talks about his big plans to combat climate change in the run up to the climate negotiations in Paris, there is a complete vacuum of any real action or plan. In fact, this decision and the decisions to cut solar and onshore wind subsidies run in completely the wrong direction.

"Whilst Government is happy to reject a nearby offshore wind on the grounds of aesthetics, it puts up a vast swathe of land on the Isle of Wight which is Areas of Outstanding Beauty as a major potential fracking site. Just like the rest of their energy policy this decision reeks of incoherence at the heart of Government thinking.”

Friends of the Earth south west Campaigner Mike Birkin commented: "It’s astonishing that a major clean energy scheme has been rejected on the grounds that it may harm the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
“The Jurassic Coast is not designated for its scenic value, and it is hard to see how the sight of wind turbines on the horizon on a clear day could be considered damaging to it.

"The real threats to Dorset's fragile coast come from climate change - and potentially oil and gas exploitation. Navitus Bay, which could have been the largest clean energy project in the south of England, would have played a key role in helping to counter this.

“Yet again the UK is turning its back on a major clean energy project that would have created hundreds of jobs, boosted the local economy and helped the nation to tackle climate change.”

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