Offshore turbines – how do the arguments for and against stack up? Steven Smith asked a major protagonist and a major objector for their views. Here David Lloyd of Challenge Navitus puts the argument in his own words...
OUR region is a valuable cultural and economic asset of the whole nation.
Its natural beauty and unique ecology has universal appeal, generating much-needed income from tourism, boating and other leisure industries.
And, of course, its unspoilt environment makes this part of Dorset a great place to live.
That is why it is home to England’s only natural World Heritage Site and contains two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a National Park.
It is difficult, therefore, to think of a less suitable location for building one of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms.
Covering approximately 78sq miles and comprising up to 333 wind turbines, each one much taller than Salisbury Cathedral, the Navitus Bay wind farm will dominate the horizon between the Isle of Wight and Purbeck.
Being off to the south, the huge turbines will often be silhouetted against the sky, making them even more visible along the coastline, blighting the seafronts of Christchurch, Poole, Bourne-mouth, Sandbanks and Swanage.
And siting the farm in the mouth of a bay simply maximises the length of coastline affected.
See the visualisations from both sides and read all our Challenge Navitus stories at bournemouthecho.co.uk/navitus
Although government recommendations state that in areas of high sensitivity, wind farms should be at least 13.8 miles from the coast, Navitus Bay is planned at just 8.2 miles from Durlston.
But it is not just the spectacular sea views that will be ruined:
- Tourism and our local economies will be hit as holidaymakers turn their back on the area in favour of more attractive venues elsewhere
- Ships and sailors will be endangered by so many turbines located in the middle of England’s busiest marine leisure area and so close to heavily-used shipping lanes
- Birds will be vulnerable to the blades because Navitus Bay is on the line of an internationally-important migration route
- Property prices could be hit.
And there will be no ‘cheap’ electricity to benefit the area as power from Navitus Bay will be fed into the National Grid to supply electricity nationwide, just like any other power station.
But maybe the national need for wind power should take precedent over concerns about the environment?
Navitus Bay is forecast to produce only about three per cent of the electricity generated by the UK’s planned offshore wind farms, capacity that could easily be recouped by adding turbines to offshore sites in less sensitive areas, or by a small change in the mix of other sources.
So for all these reasons, we believe that the Navitus Bay windfarm is simply a bad plan in the wrong place, and should therefore be rejected.