Navitus Bay Wind Farm
Developer announces preferred turbine for Navitus Bay
On 21 May, EDF and Eneco (NBDL) announced MHI Vestas as the preferred supplier of up to 121 turbines for the Navitus Bay project IF it gets the go-ahead later this year. The turbine would be the V164 8MW model with a gigantic 538ft diameter rotor.
This was one of the configurations presented in the planning examination and is not new. The project has not been reduced, these turbines are simply bigger than those in an alternative 194 x 5MW array. Similarly, alternatives of 76 x 8MW or 105 x 6MW turbine arrays were presented for the "mitigation option". Fewer, large turbines are cheaper for the developer to install and maintain.
Throughout the examination, the developer stated that fewer, but larger 8MW turbines was the WORST case for daytime visual impact which is a key concern for many parties. However, when interviewed, NBDL said that its preference for these largest turbines "provides a reduction in visual impact" and that "having fewer turbines is critical in terms of trying to reduce visual impact". Such a belated and expedient U-turn undermines the integrity of the planning system and calls every other claim by the developer into question.
No new jobs were announced. The turbine blades may be constructed at the MHI Vestas plant on the Isle of Wight where an order would help to support existing jobs, but it has not been disclosed where the towers, foundations and expensive generators would be built. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is Japanese and Vestas is Danish. NBDL was keen to point out the "local" manufacture of the blades, but building turbines is a global business and MHI Vestas may well have been selected wherever Navitus Bay was located. The first order for the V164 turbine came for a wind farm in Liverpool Bay, for example. It is good that at least a fraction of the turbine manufacturing might come to the UK, but this has to be balanced against the risk to our local economy from the location of Navitus Bay - particularly to the tens of thousands of local jobs dependent on tourism. This risk could be avoided if the wind farm were built in a less sensitive area.
NBDL is still predicting up to 140 new jobs in operations and maintenance based in Poole, Portland or Yarmouth if the larger scheme gains consent. This can be compared with the 65 jobs announced for the Rampion wind farm off Worthing which will have about the same number of, though smaller, turbines.
Economics is just one concern of many and none of the main objections to Navitus Bay was addressed by the announcement. We still firmly maintain this wind farm would be an unnecessarily damaging development for its unique and highly valued location. If you have a new councillor or MP after the recent elections, it would help to give them your opinion on the proposal, please see our Who to Write to page.
Control of Offshore Wind Turbines Bill - January 2015
Poole and Christchurch Bays Association Navitus Bay Objections - October 2014
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) review of Navitus Bay
- May 2014
Residents Associations meeting - 21/09/12 Minutes Graphics
Renewable Energy Conference - 20/09/12
Plans are afoot to build a huge wind farm at Navitus Bay, 8 miles south of Christchurch and the same distance from The Needles and Durlston Head.
The targeted generating capacity is 1200 megawatts, which if achieved would make it the largest offshore wind farm in the world. 250 turbines are proposed, some of them over 200 meters high (Salisbury Cathedral spire is 123 meters high). There will be 4 offshore substations (they look like oil rigs) linked to 6 cables on the seabed that will make landfall between Chewton Bunny and Milford on Sea. These cables will go to a new substation north of Christchurch and that will be connected to the National Grid at Mannington near Three Legged Cross.
The potential effect of all of this upon the local environment will be major.
The company behind the scheme (Eneco - a Dutch power company who have now joined forces with EDF ) have produced a scoping report and the Infrastructure Planning Commission (the body with statutory oversight) has published the responses made by relevant statutory bodies. These can be summarised as follows:
Lymington Parish Council and Lyndhurst Parish Council - strongly opposed
We asked CBC Chief Executive David McIntosh why CBC had not responded. Here's his reply:
Several people have raised this issue with us however I believe there is a degree of misunderstanding about the purpose of the scoping report. It sets out the areas that Eneco will cover in their application. We reviewed the report and were happy that it covered all of the issues that we would expect to see in such a document. When the application is submitted we will be consulted and we will then be in a position to consider this fully and formally at committee and then respond to the IPC. The application will be supported by documents such as Environmental Impact Statements which will allow us to make an educated response to the project. We are continuing to meet with Eneco on a regular basis.
The cables which will carry the generated current to the National Grid will be housed in a covered trench 30 to 60 meters wide that will come ashore east of Barton Golf Club and head first north and then west around New Milton to Hinton.
It will cross the A35 at The Cat and Fiddle and head north west through the Brockhamtons, by-passing Sopley to the east before turning west again to cross the A338 near the Ski Centre on Matchams Lane. A north westerly route will then take it through Hurn Forest, across the A31 west of St Leonards and on to West Moors and so to the Grid Sub-station at Mannington - some 35 kilometres (22 miles) in total.
The major impacts of the proposed development appear to be: the effects of the technology on the local region (the turbines will be clearly visible on the skyline for example); the economic ramifications; the effect upon wild life and us. We don't have the expertise to really evaluate these implications and so have joined a group called "Challenge Navitus Bay" that is coordinating local responses.
We are opposing two multi-national companies - Eneco, a Dutch firm, and EDF, a French-owned business - with huge incentives to get their plans approved. They are partnered with the Crown Estates, which owns and manages the seabed around the UK. The process will run until at least the end of 2013.