A FRESH proposal to build a wind farm off the Dorset coast would be welcomed by a council’s planning committee chief.

The subject of building the source of renewable energy in the sea had gone quiet since the Navitus Bay project hit the buffers in 2015.

Debate has reignited over the controversial vision to build a large wind farm in the English Channel that would be visible from the shoreline.

BCP Council members took the decision to acknowledge a responsibility in tackling climate change last summer, with the aim of the local authority being carbon neutral by 2030.

Following this decision, campaigners have challenged council leaders to take significant steps to support the environment.

Green Party councillor and chair of BCP Council’s planning committee Simon Bull said: “It is right that all options for supplying energy are considered. There is a climate and ecological emergency, the effects which are felt daily. We need to use alternative sources for our energy going forward and wind will be key.”

Bournemouth Echo: BCP Council planning committee chairman Simon Bull

When asked for his view on an offshore wind farm, Cllr Bull said he would welcome a proposal.

Any new such proposal would need to be fully scrutinised and I would hope a decision to go ahead or not would be based on the need and the facts.”

Former councillor Bournemouth David Smith, who represented the town centre ward for more than 25 years until last year’s local government elections, said he hoped the Unity Alliance administration would support the delivery of an offshore wind farm.

Bournemouth Echo:

I always believed it should have been built,” said Mr Smith.

“It will not do any harm to our tourism trade. We need to look at all possible measures for the future.

“Now we have more of a green leadership of the council, I am hoping they will support it.

“Boris Johnson has been quite clear that we are going to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

“We need action now. Most sensible people now realise the reality and danger of severe climate change.”

Navitus Bay was rejected by the government in September 2015 after years of controversy, with opposition from councils and MPs.

While being a personal supporter of the project some years ago, BCP Council leader Vikki Slade said alternative renewable sources could be preferential for the administration.

Bournemouth Echo: BCP Council leader Vikki Slade

“I was hugely in favour of Navitus Bay,” said Cllr Slade. “I am really supportive of the idea, a lot of people in the Unity Alliance are in favour but it is not a universal position.

“There are concerns about the potential environmental damage of a pipeline.

“From my point of view, although I am personally supportive and would love something to come up, I think it is difficult for us to get behind something without a proposal coming forward.

“At the time there was a lot of money about. What I would not be comfortable doing is spending or borrowing large sums to make something happen which did not have government backing.

“The government should move first. They are the ones that scrapped subsidies for renewables. We are focused on what is best use of council resources.

“Our priority would be in solar rather than wind.”

Cllr Slade said that harnessing energy from waste was also an area that could be utilised more effectively.

“At the moment some of our waste is travelling to Holland, some of it is going to Dorset,” said Cllr Slade.

“If we can rectify that and put energy waste back into the grid you have a circular economy.”

'It would cause a huge emergency for tourism'

Vehement objections to a wind farm being built off the Dorset coast remain five years on from the refusal of Navitus Bay.

The scrapped project by EDF Energy and Eneco would have seen up to 121 turbines sited 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole and nine miles from Swanage.

Bournemouth town centre councillor Mike Greene was a vocal opponent to the proposal before it was rejected – and his stance remains unchanged.

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth councillor Mike Greene

“The reason we were against it so strongly, and the planning inspectorate agreed, was the negative impact caused by the visuals of the wind farm from the coastline of the area,” said Cllr Greene. “We are already seeing some very difficult trading conditions for Bournemouth, Poole and the Dorset coastal areas. Still we are reliant almost entirely on tourism. To put that at huge risk to have a wind farm would be lunacy.

“A wind farm like Navitus would make negligible difference to the climate emergency we are in, however, it would cause a huge emergency for the tourism industry that our towns rely on.”

Objections were also raised by many MPs, local authorities and residents back in 2015.

The website for Navitus Bay remains open to view.

A statement on navitusbaywindpark.co.uk says: “On September 11, 2015, the Department for Energy and Climate Change refused consent for the Navitus Bay wind park. After careful consideration, Navitus Bay has chosen not to challenge this decision.

“We would like to thank the communities on the south coast and all our stakeholders for their engagement throughout the project. We would also like to extend a thank you to the potential suppliers, who worked incredibly hard to inform our proposal.”

Bournemouth Echo: Stuart Grant, Senior Project Manager for Navitus Bay with the Navitus data gathering buoy which was situated close to the centre of the now refused wind farm site off the Dorset coastline

When approached about the need for renewable energy sources and consideration for a modified Navitus Bay project, an Eneco spokesperson said: “Eneco firmly believes that wind energy is part of the solution to tackle the energy transition and climate change.

“In any scenario there is a need for onshore and offshore windfarms to contribute towards a carbon neutral energy production, all over Europe and beyond.

“As a company our goal is to increase our owned sustainable production capacity from 1100 to 2200 MW in four years time. Wind is a large contributor towards that goal.”