Government rejects Navitus Bay offshore wind farm

The renewable energy industry was dealt yet another blow today (9 September) as the Conservatives have rejected proposals for a £3.5bn windfarm off the south coast of England.

Energy Minister Lord Bourne has seemingly bowed to lobbying by local Tory MPs and refused planning permission for the 970MW Navitus Bay offshore wind farm in Dorset, over concerns about the projects’s visual impact. 

A DECC Spokesperson said: “Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved.”

The Navitus Bay project would have been developed by EDF. The latest proposals involved up to 194 turbines being built 13 miles off the coast from Bournemouth and 11 miles from the western tip of the Isle of Wight, powering the equivilant of 700,000 homes a year. 

But a 13-page letter sent from the Department for Energy and Climate Change to Navitus Bay project director Stuart Grant rejects the development; citing its visual impact, the potential to undermine local tourism – which benefits from the nearby Jurassic Coast – and adverse affects on recreational diving in the area, as some of the main reasons.  

Hard work

The decision is another thorn in the side of Britain’s wind energy sector, following closely behind the rejection of four wind farms in Wales and a wider Government decision to halt subsidies for any more onshore wind farms altogether. 

RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “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 £1.6bn to the economy of the region and created up to 1,700 jobs – it’s most unfortunate that that has now been lost.”

The decision, signed off by Lord Bourne, follows lobbying against Navitus Bay by Tory MPs in Dorset, local authorities and the National Trust.

Bournemouth Council argued that the proposals would have had “a serious effect” on both the natural environment and the local economy. 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.” 

Despite this further blow for the industry, RenewableUK insists the offshore remains “determined to deliver the substantial pipeline of projects in UK waters” which includes more than 5GW of operational capacity and over 13GW with planning permission.

Luke Nicholls

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