ONE of the groups opposing the Navitus Bay wind farm says it was proved right after guidance on visuals was changed.
As reported by the Daily Echo, there has been a long-running dispute over the parameters for showing the scale of developments like Navitus Bay in public consultations.
Opposition organisation Challenge Navitus has long said that Navitus Bay Development Ltd’s images, shown to the public at exhibitions during the consultation phase, played down the scale of the development, which could see as many as 194 wind turbines as high as 200m placed off the coast – 12 miles from Christchurch, 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole and nine from Swanage.
Challenge Navitus produced its own visuals, which it said more accurately portrayed how the wind farm would look.
Now, Scottish Natural Heritage, author of the old guidance used during the consultation, has announced changes, specifying larger-scale images, among other things, which it says will “deliver a significant improvement in the way wind farms are rep-resented”.
But it comes too late for Navitus Bay, which has now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. Andrew Langley of Challenge Navitus said that was “regrettable”.
He added: “As a result, the public has been denied a fair chance to assess this and many other proposals.
“Over a year ago Challenge Navitus published images in the formats now adopted by SNH.
“NBDL chose to stick with the old guidance, although one of the new formats had already been applied to a similar offshore wind farm in Scotland.
“NBDL may claim that the change makes no difference to its visual impact assessment, and that they were only following industry protocol, but the public just wanted realistic images from the developer to judge for them-selves.”
Mike Unsworth, project director at Navitus Bay, said that the old guidelines applied when it submitted its application in April.
He added: “When we submitted the application, a draft version of potentially-revised guidelines that SNH had produced was out for consultation and this clearly stated: ‘until the consultation process is complete and revised guidance published, developers should continue to follow the recommendations set out in the first version of this guidance, published in 2006’.
“Now, the new guidance is clear that, even for planning app-lications for projects submitted now and throughout the next six months, following the 2006 SNH guidelines is appropriate.”
He said that NBDL remained confident that its images were “robust and valid”.
Victory for landowners
A SEPARATE ruling from Ofgem could have an effect on NBDL’s plans.
The energy regulator has refused to approve a request from the developer of a wind farm off the Lincolnshire coast for “compulsory rights of entry” to people’s land to lay cables to connect to the National Grid.
It is a victory for landowners that object to their land being dug up to lay the cables needed to connect wind turbines to the grid.