Energy Minister Lord Bourne has announced development consent has been refused for the proposed Navitus Bay offshore wind park. This has caused a sigh of relief from campaigners in Dorset against the proposals.
Cllr 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.”
Leader of Bournemouth Council Councillor John Beesley said: “There is a huge sense of relief across Bournemouth today. Common sense has prevailed and our beautiful natural environment, coastline and dependent tourist industry have been protected for future generations.
“The scale of public reaction to EDF and Eneco’s Navitus Bay proposals to industrialise and irrevocably damage the outstandingly beautiful and natural Dorset coast was unprecedented.
“The environmental degradation and risk to the setting of the World Heritage status of the Jurassic Coast would have had a very negative and long term impact on the area. Evidence supplied by the developer warned of substantial economic damage to tourism and business confidence.
“Whilst we have remained confident that the Secretary of State would come to the right conclusion, it has been a long, hard and exhausting battle against EDF and Eneco’s Navitus Bay – a development that would have had a serious and damaging impact on our precious natural environment and local economy.
“I would like to thank the local residents, businesses, Poole and Christchurch Bays’ Association, Challenge Navitus and our MPs who have campaigned so passionately against this scheme. We now look forward to continuing to grow Bournemouth’s position as a leading national and international tourist destination as further investment flows into the town.”
The National Trust also welcomed the news that the Navitus Bay Wind Park has been refused planning consent.
“We always believed that this is the wrong proposal for this location and will lead to damage of a beautiful coastline,” said Ian Wilson, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust in the South West.
“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.”
Bournemouth Tourism Management Board (BTMB) added their delighted comment.
Des Simmons, Managing Director of Bournecoast Ltd and BTMB chairman said: “We warmly welcome the government’s decision to reject Navitus Bay which would have damaged one of the UK’s most environmentally sensitive landscapes and hit local tourism business hard.
“BTMB is pleased that the government has listened to local business concerns about the environmental and consequential economic impact Navitus Bay was forecast to have. We can now focus on promoting Bournemouth as Britain’s premier resort and welcoming even more national and overseas visitors to this area. We would like to thank our local MPs for campaigning so hard against this development.”
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.”
Updated on 11 September 2015 to include comment by Des Simmons