THE director of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre has voiced concerns about the controversial £3billion Navitus Bay wind farm project.
Kishore Rao, who is an instrumental figure in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has written to the head of heritage policy at the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Jurassic Coast, where the wind farm is proposed to be constructed offshore, became a Unesco World Heritage site in 2001.
Unesco’s concerns on the project come after the respected advisory body – the International Union for Conservation & Nature (IUCN) – reviewed relevant documentation connected to the wind farm application.
In his letter to Leila Al-Kazwini, Mr Rao said potential impacts from the wind farm proposals – to put up to 194 turbines with a maximum tip height of 200m – could be, according to the IUCN report, in contradiction to the “overarching principle of the World Heritage Convention as stipulated in its Article 4.”
Article 4 of the World Heritage Convention, which the UK is signed up to, spells out that individual countries have a duty to ensure the “identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage” of World Heritage Sites within their borders.
Mr Rao does not elaborate on what would happen with regard to the Jurassic Coast’s current World Heritage Status, should the Navitus Bay application become a reality as it is.
But he did stress that the IUCN report concluded: “The completion of the project would result in the property being presented and transmitted to future generations in a form that is significantly different from what was there at the time of inscription and until today.
“Specifically, the property will change from being located in a natural setting that is largely free from human-made structures to one where its setting is dominated by human-made structures.”
The IUCN also said the wind farm will have a “significant impact on important views.”
Earlier this month the Planning Inspectorate confirmed the wind farm application, from French energy giant EDF and Dutch firm Eneco, had been accepted. The inspectorate now has three months to examine the proposals.
Plans for the sprawling wind farm have been subject to numerous public exhibitions, which have divided local opinion.
On this latest twist in the Navtus Bay saga, Dr Andrew Langley, from wind farm opposition group Challenge Navitus, said: “We welcome IUCN’s conclusions, which are in line with our own concerns. “The Navitus Bay wind farm would completely change the character of views from the main visitor centre at Durlston Castle.
“The decision by the Crown Estate in 2009 to designate this zone so close to England’s only natural World Heritage Site, two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a national park, was extremely surprising.”
Work of organisation
THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) was established in 1945, shortly after the end of the Second World War.
It was formed to create lasting peace on the basis of “humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.”
It works to build networks among nations through a range of initiatives, including creating protection and support for cultural diversity.
Unesco created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value