Ministers Refuse Development Consent to Huge Offshore Wind Farm

In a move Richard Carr finds pretty unusual, government ministers have refused to give development consent to a huge offshore wind farm; something they’re not known for doing too often.

Meeting energy demand

Over the past decade or so, a number of renewable energy technologies have been developed to meet rising UK energy demand. Offshore wind farms have proved particularly popular with Labour and Conservative governments alike. These projects need development consent from the government before they can go ahead, but astonishingly enough, not one offshore wind farm has been refused consent since the implementation of the Planning Act 2008.

Consent denied

Strike that last statement; Portal Director recently reported that Energy minister Lord Bourne has announced that development consent has been refused for the Navitus Bay offshore wind park. The scheme, which was to be located 14-17 kilometres off the coast of Dorset and the Isle of Wight, would have seen the construction of a colossal 194 wind turbines.

The proposed Navitus Bay development was scrutinised by a team of four planning inspectors between September 2014 and March 2015. They recommended refusal partly because of the proposed scheme’s close proximity to Dorset’s so-called ‘Jurassic Coast.’ A UNESCO-designated World Heritage site, many feared Navitus Bay would negatively impact tourism. Primarily, they suggested that the visual impact of 194 offshore wind turbines, was enough to refuse development consent.

Expert analysis

Infrastructure planning expert Angus Walker, a partner with law firm BDB, explained what this could mean for the future of offshore wind farm development. He said: “Characterising this as a huge blow for renewable energy is probably going a bit far.

“All the other offshore wind farms promoted under the Planning Act 2008 have been approved, this one is something of a special case given its proximity to the coast, although the Rampion wind farm off the Sussex coast was about the same distance and has been approved.

Nothing more than a blip

In Richard Carr’s opinion, the refusal of development consent to Navitus Bay is nothing more than a blip on the radar. The Conservatives may oppose onshore wind farms, but with this exception, they haven’t refused development consent to a single offshore wind farm throughout their time in government. They approved Rampion at the same time they refused Navitus, and that says it all really.