THE NAVITUS WIND FARM PROJECT

A Statement by The Purbeck Society

1. Introduction
The Purbeck Society has traditionally been involved in the study of the natural environment in the historic Isle of Purbeck. More recently, with the various threats to the natural and built environment, the Society has concerned itself with conservation and planning. We welcomed the designation of the Jurassic coast as a World Heritage Site as recognition of the outstanding coastline that we are fortunate to have in Purbeck. It is because of the latter that the Society feels it should concern itself with the proposed Navitus Wind Farm and the issues surrounding wind power as it might affect Purbeck.

2. Climate Change
Of great concern world-wide is the question of climate change and what should be done about it. Leaving aside the controversy as to the extent of man’s activities as compared to the cyclical changes in the Earth’s climate over the millennia, it is accepted that alternative and less environmentally damaging forms of energy must be found. We believe this is necessary not only for the potential effect on climate change but also as the conventional sources of fuel, coal, gas and oil are finite and the world’s demand for energy is ever increasing. The subject of nuclear power is highly controversial and although it is highly unlikely that UK energy requirements will be satisfied without it, it is not part of our present considerations.

3. ‘Natural’ Energy
Therefore, we believe it right that alternative forms of ‘natural’ energy are being researched, i.e. wind power, solar energy, wave/tidal power, anaerobic digestion (a process handling feedstock waste to produce biogas, water and fertilisers) and biomass fuels. To develop these alternative forms of energy, large national and international investment is required.

4. On Shore wind farms
The proposed site at East Stoke, in the event refused planning consent as the applicants could not achieve the conditions required by PDC, has gone to appeal. While it is strictly outside the Society’s defined area of concern, privately, we are worried if the appeal is won by the applicants a precedent may be set for other similar applications in the area; a total of 180 on shore turbines has been proposed for Dorset. The visual impact of land based wind farms in the small and intimate scale of the landscape in Dorset generally, and Purbeck in particular, would be extremely damaging.

5. Navitus Proposals
5.1 Generally, off-shore wind farms raise the questions of whether they can provide a reliable electricity supply (do they have to be turned off in storms and high winds?) and their effect on the local climate, migratory patterns for birdlife, effect on fish stocks, hazards to shipping etc., as well as the fundamental question of funding alluded to above.
5.2 Of great concern to residents of, and visitors to, Swanage and Purbeck is the question of the actual siting of the proposed Navitus Wind Farm. The current proposal is to locate the nearest of the turbines at a distance of only just over 8 miles (13 km) from Swanage. They would lie just to the south (right) of the Isle of Wight when viewed from Old Harry, Studland, Swanage beach, Peveril Point and Durlston. Furthermore with the height of the cliffs all along this stretch of Heritage coast the full height of the turbines would be visible. At a proposed height of up to 205 metres, these equate to a 65 storey building. For the wind farm as a whole this could mean up to some 180 sixty five storey buildings. The rotors of each of the nearest turbines would appear to be significantly bigger than a full moon.
5.3 The Isle of Wight’s nearest point to Swanage, the Needles, is approximately 16 miles (26km) distant and clearly visible most days of the year, while the southern tip of the Isle of Wight at some 29 miles (46km) distant is visible on many clear days. The wind farm would appear to be as tall (or taller) than the Needles and over two and a half times as wide and as the whole Isle of Wight when seen from Durlston castle, transforming the view from there.
5.4 Great play is made by Eneco, the Navitus Wind Farm applicant, that the site was allocated by the Crown Estate after consultation. However this was a private, not public, consultation with the County Council. Moreover the site for which they bid was approximately 3 times the area that they now propose to develop, i.e. that which is that closest to the shore and therefore the most visually damaging. It is understood that water depth, sea-bed geology, shipping routes and MoD constraints are reasons for the selection of the current area; however it may not be coincidence that it is also closest to the planned exit point. Furthermore, we are given to understand that of all the sites offered by the Crown Estate, this area is acknowledged to be the least productive. While the Society does not oppose off-shore wind farms per se, we are utterly opposed to the currently proposed siting of the wind farm in the nearest and most damaging part of the bid area.

6. In summary:
6.1 The Society is utterly opposed to the historic views of the coast and Isle of Wight being degraded in this way – we suspect that similar opinions may be held by those on the Isle of Wight having their views of ‘our’ Jurassic coast being similarly destroyed. The wind farm would appear to be “tacked on to” the landmasses of the Isle of Wight, or Purbeck depending on where you are.
6.2 We would refer to the map on www.challengenavitus.org.uk under “What is proposed?”. The main problem is the amazing width and height of the farm when seen from, say, Durlston, Swanage, Studland or the Needles.
6.3 We are concerned as to the effect that its proximity to the coast might have on shipping, fishing and the migratory routes of birds.
6.4 The Society is concerned that the coveted World Heritage Designation of the Jurassic Coast may be jeopardised. This designation encourages an awareness of the geology, wildlife and tourism, the latter helping to sustain the economy of Purbeck which is so reliant on tourism.
6.5 The Society is very supportive of Challenge Navitus’s work on providing research into aspects of the wind farm which, so far, the applicants have been reluctant to provide, such as an accurate representation of the visual impact of the wind farm when viewed from various points along the coast.
6.6 Eneco cite, as an example, the wind farm located off the coast of Holland at a distance of some 24km (15 miles) from shore. This however does not obstruct any views except that of the open sea, the turbines are 11 km (6 miles) further away than those proposed for Navitus, are less than half the height, and there are only 60 turbines in less than 1/10th of the area.
6.7 We believe that, at the very least, the closest turbines should be moved further away from the coast, the area of the wind farm reduced and its shape changed to minimise the visual effect as seen from the shore.

7. Conclusion
7.1 If the Navitus project proceeds as currently proposed, Purbeck residents will have inflated electricity bills to pay for Eneco profits and have the beautiful and historic views from our coast wrecked by the intrusion of these turbines. Furthermore, particularly if the World Heritage designation is lost, a negative impact on tourism upon which so much of Purbeck’s economy is dependent, could result – a truly disastrous scenario for Purbeck.
7.2 Residents and visitors to Purbeck who repeatedly come to the area because of its unique attractions need to be aware of what is being proposed and raise their opposition to it. This will have to be taken to Government level, as off-shore wind farms are outside the normal planning process via the local authorities.
7.3 The Society will be watching events closely, taking part in the consultation process and lobbying our MP, who has pledged his opposition to these proposals.
7.4 Please join with us in ensuring Purbeck’s interests are safeguarded. As stated above, we are not against the principle of an off-shore wind farm, but the present proposals are totally unacceptable. We submit that relocating the wind farm further out to sea would not jeopardise the future of the planet. However, accepting what is currently proposed we believe would jeopardise the well-being and future of Purbeck by destroying the priceless historic views and coastline of Purbeck and risking the World Heritage Site designation.

The Purbeck Society
March 2012

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