Navitus Bay: Reactions to government's decision to refuse wind farm

The government has refused permission for a £3.5bn offshore wind farm to be built off the south coast of England.

The 121-turbine Navitus Bay project proved highly contentious with opponents claiming it would "desecrate" the Jurassic Coast and harm tourism in the area.

Supporters pointed to the benefits of renewable energy and jobs created in constructing and maintaining the turbines.

Earlier Lord Bourne, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), announced development consent had been refused for the proposed project.

Here is some of the reaction.

Tobias Ellwood - Conservative MP for Bournemouth East

"There's been a collective sigh of relief.

"We do tourism extremely well here - we don't do wind farms - this was the wrong location for it.

"Tourism is so important for Dorset. This would have been a blight on the landscape.

"The majority of people were very much against it and there was huge concern that there would be a mass impact on tourism and that's our key industry here."

Richard Drax - Conservative MP for Dorset South

"Navitus Bay was always too big, too close and threatened the very existence of England's only natural Unesco World Heritage Site.

"Yes, we need renewable energy sources for the future and already offshore wind generation forms a significant part of that, but to attempt to site it here, near some of the most highly designated coastline in England, would have been wilfully destructive... a more sensitive site is hard to imagine.

"Ultimately, I believe the threat to our Jurassic Coast, combined with damning research from Bournemouth Borough Council, which showed the wind farm could cost the area 5,000 jobs and £6.3bn in tourism revenue, swung the balance."

Jonathan Bacon - Leader, Isle of Wight Council

"My reaction is one of disappointment - if this had been granted we'd have been looking at potential employment in support of the project from Yarmouth, as well as having the preferred supplier for the blades [MHI Vestas Offshore Wind] on the island.

"Those opportunities would seem to have been lost now. It will have some unfortunate effects for the island's economy."

Mark Smith - Bournemouth Tourism

"I'm absolutely delighted - it's a decision about protecting the wonderful coastline which brings people from all over the world.

"It's very hard to overstate it - in this area tourism brings in over £1bn a year. Most of that comes from the attractiveness of the area so if you put that at risk, you put at risk 25,000 jobs."

Angela Pooley - East Dorset Friends of the Earth

"It is ironic that this decision is made at a time when they have announced a range of applications for oil and gas exploration on the coast.

"Surely that's going to have more of an impact than this wind farm.

"Sadly this shows that the government is not genuinely committed to reducing our use of fossil fuels and climate change.

"I would like to think we would have a site like this somewhere along the coast but that is up to the developers.

"Wind alone is not the answer, we need to have a mix of other renewable sources of energy."

Dr Andrew Langley - Challenge Navitus

"The Navitus Bay proposal was in one of the worst locations of all the new offshore wind farms and we are relieved that the government has refused to grant consent.

"With so many valid reasons for opposition, and unprecedented levels of objection, it would have been irrational to allow this scheme to proceed.

"We regret that so much time and effort has been put into examining a proposal that was clearly flawed from the outset and in a zone that should never have been included in the national offshore wind farm plan.

"We call on the developer to accept the government's decision and abandon its plans for good."

Conor Burns - Conservative MP for Bournemouth West

"I have said from the very beginning that the Navitus Bay proposal would be bad for Bournemouth and bad for Dorset, threatening the UK's only natural World Heritage Site and the tourism economy which is the lifeblood of my constituency.

"I very much welcome the government's decision to refuse planning consent, which vindicates my own long-standing opposition to the proposal, as well as that of many of my constituents.

"I am delighted that our case has prevailed.

"The developer should take note that we will fight any appeal with equal resolve. This scheme must now be at an end and the threat to our area removed forever."

Clare Moody - Labour MEP for the South West & Gibraltar

"Not only will the UK be missing out on this important energy source but the development had enormous potential to bring hundreds of well-paid, highly-skilled jobs to an area that is dominated by low-pay.

"This decision means the UK is more reliant on non-renewable energy sources, including gas and oil from unstable countries overseas.

"This appears to be a politically motivated decision... the biggest threat to our beautiful coastline isn't from off-shore wind turbines but is from climate change, which we have already seen have a devastating impact on the South West coast line through serious storm damage.

"This decision is short-sighted and will only make the problem worse in the long-term.

"It's disappointing that the government aren't standing up for people who need this development but are caving in to those who shout the loudest."

Mark Lynas - Climate change writer and broadcaster

Speaking ahead of the decision, Mr Lynas said: "The primary objections to this wind farm seemed to be aesthetic, not ecological.

"However the fact is that the UK needs large-scale clean energy developments like Navitus Bay if we are to meet our climate change targets.

"If offshore wind is rejected as an option, it will be extremely difficult to both get carbon emissions down and keep the lights on at the same time."

Michael Tomlinson - Conservative MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole

"We live in a beautiful part of the country and tourism plays a huge part in our local economy.

"It is right that our famous coastline has been protected and I am sure this will be a big relief to many local people.

"I believe that we need a balanced energy policy but this scheme is simply in the wrong place."

Molly Scott Cato - Green MEP for South West

Speaking ahead of the decision, Ms Scott Cato said: "We're obliged to reduce our carbon emissions and we simply don't have any way of providing the electricity and alternatives are much, much more expensive.

"It's going to be a blow to the security of our electricity supply and it's going to undermine the many jobs and skills that could be brought into the area, so I think it will be a very serious and very negative decision if we don't get permission for Navitus Bay to go ahead."

Ian Wilson, assistant director of operations for the National Trust in the South West

"We always believed that this is the wrong proposal for this location and will lead to damage of a beautiful coastline.

"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."

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