The decision, announced by Energy Minister Lord Bourne on Friday, 11 September 2015, was to refuse the application by Navitus Bay Development Limited for development consent for both the Application Development and the Turbine Area Mitigation Option, which would have been located off the Dorset and Isle of Wight coasts.
Over the past 12 years the RYA has worked closely with the maritime community, in particular the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Trinity House, the UK Chamber of Shipping and the British Ports Association, in an effort to minimise any adverse impacts that offshore renewable energy developments might have on navigational safety.
Protecting boating activities
The RYA has also worked closely with the promoter of the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park from the project’s inception in an effort to ensure that, if built, the project would not have an unacceptable impact on recreational boating activities.
However, as the RYA made clear in its evidence to the Planning Inspectorate, the RYA remained concerned that the loss of amenity caused by the development to leisure boaters and the potential risk to the many local businesses dependent on them were disproportionate to the relatively small benefits of the development in terms of generating capacity and economic opportunity for the local community.
The RYA also expressed concern about the impact of phased construction, operation and maintenance vessel traffic on the usability of south coast ports and the western Solent by recreational boaters.
World Heritage Site
Although the Secretary of State appears to have based her decision primarily on the impact the proposed development would have had on the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, rather than socio-economic considerations or the potential loss of amenity, the RYA welcomes the decision to refuse consent for this development.
Stuart Carruthers, Cruising Manager at the RYA, explained: “We have made it clear from the outset that we were not in favour of the proposal for a Round 3 development zone in the selected location. We recognise that offshore wind farms make a useful contribution to renewable energy generation, but it is crucial that they are correctly sited.
“It was quite clear from comments received by the RYA and by the Examining Authority that the mere presence of the development would have resulted in a significant loss of amenity for those who enjoy all aspects of boating in this part of the UK. It would also have had a detrimental impact on the local leisure marine industry.”
Stuart added: “With an increasing number of wind farms in operation, under construction or planned around the UK coast, it is more important than ever for us to remain engaged with Ministers and offshore energy developers to ensure the best possible outcome for recreational boating.”
The RYA will continue to engage with offshore energy developers to secure navigational safety and to ensure that full account is taken of recreational boating activities, while broadly supporting the sustainable development and management of the UK’s marine environment.