England

Navitus Bay wind farm refused permission by government

Navitus Bay mock-up Image copyright Navitus bay
Image caption The £3.5bn Navitus Bay plan, developed jointly by Dutch firm Eneco and French giant EDF Energy A, would have had up to 121 8MW turbines at 200m (656ft) high

A proposed wind farm off the south coast of England has been refused consent by the government.

Developers behind the Navitus Bay project - for up to 121 turbines off Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - say it would have provided electricity for up to 700,000 homes.

Opponents said it would damage tourism and was too close to protected coasts.

It is only the second time the Department of Energy and Climate Change has rejected an offshore project.

The £3.5bn Navitus Bay plan, developed jointly by Dutch firm Eneco and French giant EDF Energy A, would have seen up to 121 8MW turbines at 200m (656ft) high constructed.

Image copyright Navitus Bay
Image caption An artist's impression shows how the turbines may have looked 14.6km (9.1 miles) off Swanage

The Planning Inspectorate spent six months studying the plans, which developers said would contribute £1.6bn to the UK's economy over 25 years.

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind would have made the 80m-long blades at its factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight - six years after it shut a plant on the island, axing 425 jobs and sparking an 18-day sit-in by workers.

But all surrounding local authorities, except the Isle of Wight Council, were opposed to the scheme, and campaigners feared it would have a negative impact on the area's tourism industry.

Bournemouth Borough Council had claimed the turbines, 13.3 miles out to sea from the resort, would detract tourists from visiting, risking almost 5,000 local jobs and cause a total economic loss of £6.3bn.

There were also fears it could lead to the loss of the Jurassic Coast's Unesco World Heritage Status.

The National Trust had also criticised the plans.

Image copyright Navitus Bay
Image caption It is the second time the DECC has refused permission for an offshore project

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.

"We will now discuss the options available with our shareholders and update stakeholders in due course."

Navitus Bay

121

8MW turbines 200m (656ft) high

700,000

homes would receive electricity

  • 13.3 miles from Bournemouth at its nearest point

  • 1,700 local jobs during four-year construction

  • £6.5bn Cost to Eneco and EDF for building and operating over 25 years

A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesman said: "Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved."

The decision letter states there would be a "residual significant adverse impact on the qualities underpinning Dorset and Isle of Wight's Areas of Natural Beauty".

It continues: "Conflict between conservation of the significance of heritage assets, including a World Heritage Site, and proposals for development would not be minimised or avoided.

"The very special circumstances required to justify the harm occasioned by inappropriate development in the Green Belt and other harm would not exist, as the benefits would not clearly outweigh the harm identified."

Navitus Bay joins the proposed Docking Shoal project off the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coastlines, which was also refused consent by the DECC in 2012.

Image caption There were campaigns both against and in favour of the offshore wind scheme

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