22 February 2011

Conflict over new Jurassic Coast offshore wind farm

A new 390-turbine offshore wind farm has been proposed for the Jurassic Coast, England’s only geological World Heritage Site, prompting concerns from local councillors for tourism in the area.

The project will provide enough renewable power between 615,000 and 820,000 homes – up to 1200MW in capacity.

The 76 sq-mile farm, proposed by Dutch energy firm, Eneco, will sit along the Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight coastline.

The farm is very close (within ten miles) to tourist spots such as Peveril Point in Swanage, the Needles on the Isle of Wight and to Bournemouth town. It will therefore be visible from much of the coastline.

Councillor Bill Trite, from Dorset County and Purbeck District councils, believes the new development would adversely affect tourism in the area. He said: “Even at eight miles off Swanage these things will spoil the sea vista, look 'industrial' and give the undesirable impression of yet more development and encroachment into the natural sphere. The beauty and tranquillity of the latter, whether land or sea, is why so many people visit this part of the world.

“I would have thought wave/sea power was the obvious form of green energy to go for in this country. We are a small island completely surrounded by sea, and unlike wind the power of the tides is constant and predictable.”

However, Councillor John Howe for Totland, Isle of Wight said he doesn’t believe the tourism will be affected and could even be improved by the development, he said: “I look upon it from where there already are wind farms, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. If you stand at the bay and look inwards you will still see the Needles and if you look out at sea, you will still be able to see Bournemouth and Weymouth. They will just be another thing to look at.

“We hope it will bring benefits to the area, nothing has been decided and no contracts have been handed out but we would hope a certain amount of money will be brought into the region.”

The area for development was awarded to Eneco by the Crown Estate. They were originally given 279 sq-miles of seabed to explore and plan where would be most suitable.

The final decision for the location of the site was made after a Zone Appraisal and Planning (ZAP) process, which included feedback from stakeholders, public information days, and engineering and environmental surveys.

Chris Sherrington, director of the project said: “This is an important milestone for this project and enables us to look to the future and consider wider impacts such as the positive economic benefits our project could bring to the area.”

Now the wind-park location has been announced, Eneco will conduct a formal consultation process, and conduct public information days in Weymouth, Poole, Bournemouth, Swanage, Christchurch and Newport from 16 to 31 March 2011.


Image: Phault | flickr

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