THE Government has rejected plans for a wind farm off the Dorset coast, it has been announced.

After years of controversy, the Department for Energy and Climate Change today said that it would not let the Navitus Bay proposals go ahead.

The scheme, which has been vigorously fought against by councils, MPs and campaign groups, would have seen up to 121 turbines sited 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole and nine miles from Swanage.

The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Simon Ridley, said: “Alongside national policy and evidence of the need for the project, the views and comments from communities, particularly those near the South East coast of England who might be affected by this proposal, greatly assisted the Examining Authority in considering the overall impacts of the project.”

The decision made by the Department for Energy and Climate Change was in line with a recommendation to refuse by the Planning Inspectorate.

That recommendation was made in June, but has also been made public for the first time today.

Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council Cllr John Beesley said: “There is a huge sense of relief across Bournemouth today.

"Common sense has prevailed and our beautiful natural environment, coastline and dependent tourist industry have been protected for future generations.

“The scale of public reaction to EDF and Eneco’s Navitus Bay proposals to industrialise and irrevocably damage the outstandingly beautiful and natural Dorset coast was unprecedented.  

“The environmental degradation and risk to the setting of the World Heritage status of the Jurassic Coast would have had a very negative and long term impact on the area. 

"Evidence supplied by the developer warned of substantial economic damage to tourism and business confidence.

“Whilst we have remained confident that the Secretary of State would come to the right conclusion, it has been a long, hard and exhausting battle against EDF and Eneco’s Navitus Bay – a development that would have had a serious and damaging impact on our precious natural environment and local economy. 

“I would like to thank the local residents, businesses, Poole and Christchurch Bays’ Association, Challenge Navitus and our MPs who have campaigned so passionately against this scheme. 

"We now look forward to continuing to grow Bournemouth’s position as a leading national and international tourist destination as further investment flows into the town.”

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said: “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 have spoken in Parliament on six occasions on this subject, lobbied the Secretary of State in their own Department and put the case directly to the Prime Minister in No. 10. I am delighted that our case has prevailed.

“While others were prepared to countenance this scheme, I opposed it from the very start. 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.”

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.

"During the past five years the project team has carried out comprehensive stakeholder and community consultation.

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

Roy Pointer, chairman of anti-Navitus Poole and Christchurch Bays Association, which represents 50 residents’ groups, said: “We welcome the decision to refuse consent for Navitus Bay offshore wind farm and feel that common sense has prevailed.

“We are delighted that this beautiful coastline, which provides such a great deal of pleasure to visitors and is so vital to our tourism industry, has been protected from industrial threat. Great credit is due to our MPs, councils, businesses and many volunteers who worked so hard to deliver this result, which will be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of our residents.”

Dr Andrew Langley of Swanage-based opposition group Challenge Navitus, said: “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.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said he was "delighted" with the decision and added: “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 £6.3 billion in tourism revenue, swung the balance.”

Christchurch MP Chris Chope said: “I thank all those who campaigned so hard for this outcome over many years. Although local Conservative MPs and councillors have been in the forefront of the campaign, we would not have succeeded without popular support and the assiduous work of the Poole and Christchurch Bays Association.

“The decisive element in this saga was the election in May of a real Conservative Government and the removal of the Lib-Dem Energy Secretary.”

Cllr Ray Nottage, Leader of Christchurch Borough Council, said: “We are delighted with the decision made by the Secretary of State regarding the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm.

"We consulted with our residents some time ago as to whether they supported the idea of a wind farm and they overwhelmingly told us that they did not.

“Although we support renewable energy in any form, we have said this was not the right location for a wind farm for a number of reasons and, fortunately, the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate have agreed with us.”

Cllr Simon Bull, who represents Winton East for the Green Party on Bournemouth Borough Council, said: “The South East Dorset Green Party is deeply disappointed by the Energy Secretary’s decision to reject Navitus Bay. How long can we go on sticking our heads in the sand and pretend that global warming is not happening?

“Today’s announcement means our reliance on fossil fuels will continue. Furthermore, with the Oil and Gas Authority’s recent announcement on drilling licences, which included 8 sites within Purbeck, this could even mean fracking, a method of extracting fuel which will truly desecrate our coastline.

“Since the election the government seems to have attacked every sector of the renewable energy industry first onshore wind farms then solar and finally offshore wind farms.

“In light of this announcement we feel it is even more important that MPs that have stood against it make it clear where they stand in relation to extending drilling sites across the region.

“The Green Party, nationally and locally, must now be assertive and say that Westminster, national planners, and the local councils here in Dorset must all get together and offer realistic and prompt alternatives, to the cancelled Navitus project, that will produce the same amount of renewables power generation for Dorset.

“We're all living in a time where technology is racing ahead, the UK government needs to come up with modern initiatives and enlightened 21st century programmes such as universal insulation for homes offices, schools, etc, better standards in new-build houses, progressive ideas like PassivHaus, local community-owned schemes, etc.

“The challenge is accept Navitus or provide a viable alternative.”

Clare Moody, Labour MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, said: “This is incredibly disappointing news for the area.

"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 is short-sighted, the biggest threat to our beautiful coastline is from climate change and it will only make the problem worse in the long-term.

"This appears to be a politically motivated decision and 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.”

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said: “Opponents have argued that Navitus Bay would threaten the Jurassic Coast. The rising sea levels and storm surges associated with climate change are a far greater threat to this wonderful coastline.

"Projects like Navitus help to reduce the carbon emissions responsible for changing the planet’s climate.”

Ian Wilson, assistant director of Operations for the National Trust in the South West, said: “We believe strongly in the need to grow renewable energy generation and wean ourselves off fossil fuels, but it has to be in the right place at the right scale. 

"We could not support the location and scale of the original plan put forward by Navitus Bay Development Ltd so close to National Trust land and the World Heritage Site.”

Cllr Gary Suttle, leader of Purbeck District Council, said: “We are pleased that ministers have made this decision. Although the council fully supports sustainable energy, the potential adverse impacts of such a large scale development outweighed any potential benefits.”

Andy Taylor, vice president for energy at Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation, said: “The curtailment of an infrastructure project at such a late stage is disappointing. The investment of time and resource in pre-planning and design work will have been significant, as the rights to develop this Round 3 wind farm were awarded in 2010.

"This curtailment could act as a hammer blow to future infrastructure projects, by sending very mixed messages to investors.”

Des Simmons, MD of Bournecoast Ltd and Bournemouth Tourism Management Board chairman, said: “We warmly welcome the government’s decision to reject Navitus Bay which would have damaged one of the UK’s most environmentally sensitive landscapes and hit local tourism business hard.

“BTMB is pleased that the government has listened to local business concerns about the environmental and consequential economic impact Navitus Bay was forecast to have.

"We can now focus on promoting Bournemouth as Britain’s premier resort and welcoming even more national and overseas visitors to this area.  We would like to thank our local MPs for campaigning so hard against this development.”

Poole MP Robert Syms said the plans “never stacked up” and added: “I’m very pleased with the decision; I think clearly the ministers listened to the concerns in Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding areas.”

Cllr Janet Walton, leader of the council at Borough of Poole, said: “There was massive public opposition to this scheme with the highest number of representations received by the Planning Inspectorate for any proposed offshore windfarm so far.

"In Poole's response we expressed our concern over the visual impact of the scheme, the detrimental effect on tourism and the potential loss of materials deposited on our beaches caused by changes in wind and tidal movements."

Michael Tomlinson, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, said: “I am pleased that the Navitus Bay scheme has been rejected. Many local residents have written to  me raising their concerns, these concerns have been raised by MPs, Councillors and local residents alike and I am grateful that these views have been taken seriously.”

“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.”

East Dorset Friends of the Earth coordinator Angela Pooley said: "It’s astonishing that a major clean energy scheme has been rejected on the grounds that it may harm the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

“The Jurassic Coast is not designated for its scenic value, and it is hard to see how the sight of wind turbines on the horizon on a clear day could be considered damaging to it.

"The real threats to Dorset's fragile coast come from climate change - and potentially oil and gas exploitation. Navitus Bay, which could have been the largest clean energy project in the south of England, would have played a key role in helping to counter this.

“Yet again the UK is turning its back on a major clean energy project that would have created hundreds of jobs, boosted the local economy and helped the nation to tackle climate change.”

Stuart Carruthers, cruising manager at the Royal Yachting Association, said: “We have made it clear from the outset that we were not in favour of the proposal for a Round 3 development zone in the selected location. We recognise that offshore wind farms make a useful contribution to renewable energy generation, but it is crucial that they are correctly sited.

“It was quite clear from comments received by the RYA and by the Examining Authority that the mere presence of the development would have resulted in a significant loss of amenity for those who enjoy all aspects of boating in this part of the UK. It would also have had a detrimental impact on the local leisure marine industry.”