A note on the meeting with Eneco at the Drop In session at the Swanage Youth Centre on 21st June 2012

Hearing of this session from Andrew Langley, of Challenge Navitus – I attended on behalf of the Purbeck Society.

Eneco attendees were Rebecca Evans and Daniel Bates, although it seems that they are from PR consultants rather than Eneco’s direct employees. David Lloyd from the Sailing Club was the only other attendee at this session, although we were given to understand that other sessions would be held during the day. Eneco are due to meet Andrew Langley early next month.

The consultation process seems to be a long and protracted one; we have had round one with the exhibition at the Mowlem earlier in the year. The next round, apart from these Drop Ins, will commence in November this year – when an initial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be available, although I am not clear whether it will be published as such, but will be part of the consultation.

February 2013 – Detail EIA sent to statutory consultees. They said, I believe wrongly, that Swanage Town and Purbeck District Councils are statutory consultees. My understanding is that DCC is the only statutory consultee and that STC and PDC can only make representations to DCC.

May / June 2013 – completion and submission of planning application, which will eventually be determined by the Secretary of State, a process expected to take until the end of 2014.

The Eneco representatives were defensive in the extreme, falling back on the statement that they were ‘following the consultation process as required by law’. They totally denied the government recommendation requiring offshore wind farms in environmentally sensitive areas to be sited ‘outside’ 12 nautical miles (13.8 miles) from the shore. As we know, Navitus Bay will be eight miles from Swanage.

They refused to accept that the visuals which they are continuing to show are seriously misleading as has been shown by Andrew Langley, despite the fact that they had to put a yellow sticker on them at the Mowlem Exhibition admitting they were incorrect! Eneco’s position is that they were prepared by independent consultants who, of course, are paid by Eneco.

Please see the visuals on the Challenge Navitus website at www.challengenavitus.org.uk.

As part of their research into shipping routes, they plan to carry out a survey for a week in February and a Cowes week in July. When asked if they would carry out a survey for a year, they said that they were only required by the process to provide a ‘snapshot’ of shipping traffic.

Even when the application is made, the number, height, disposition and type of turbines that they intend to provide will not be known. This, they claim, is for commercial reasons; as technology moves on different options would be available, so Eneco and their partner EDF need ‘flexibility’ when they seek tenders for the turbines and other equipment. The total maximum output will be known but the mix of the three main types, their heights and number will not be decided until they complete their procurement process, i.e. sometime after consent would be given. It seems apart from the full EIA and a lot of general technical data, the application will merely be for an area indicated on a plan and for a maximum number of turbines, together with the route of the underground cable line to the collection station.

They were dismissive of the potentially adverse effect on tourism and Purbeck’s economy, and the unique quality of the Jurassic coast as a World Heritage site but said that a beneficial effect would be the jobs created in manufacture, construction and on-going maintenance.

They say that they have obtained their licence from the Marine & Maritime Organisation to erect a Meteorological Mast to gather data. When pointed out that it would be sited a mile nearer the coast than their nearest proposed turbine, they denied that data collected would be incorrect for the wind farm as a whole. They plan to erect the mast next year.

Eneco claim that all representations and objections will be taken into account, although apart from taking our names no notes of the points made at the session were taken. They continue to ignore the strength of local opinion and continue to act as though the result is a foregone conclusion. When asked about feedback from other similar Drop Ins, all they said was that they were ‘very positive’ although attendance at some was ‘disappointing’. They said a session to be held by the Planning Inspectorate with PDC Councillors ‘to explain the consultation process’ is due in the autumn, Sylvia Leonard is the contact.

At construction phase, Eneco would have to lodge a bond with the Crown Estate to ensure that in due course, the turbines can be properly and finally dismantled. This should obviate a situation of the turbines being left to rot and become a hazard in the event of Eneco ceasing trading.

I remain of the opinion that the whole consultation and planning process is deeply flawed and a mighty effort will need to be mounted to counter it. Positives are the declared opposition to it by our MP and MEP, the Bournemouth MP and the growing anger and consequent opposition of the public, when they realise what is happening; a negative is the apathy of many of the population who do not realise what is being proposed. Please help to spread the word!

The Purbeck Society
Mike Stollery
June 2012

Contact: Purbeck Society Chairman, Mike Stollery on 01929 421492 or e-mail mikestollery@btopenworld.com

Related: The Navitus Wind Farm project