Navitus Bay Windfarm

Wind park firm seeks public opinion

Navitus Bay began its third round of consultation for its proposed wind park project this month by holding exhibitions around Dorset to gather public opinion.

The wind park will produce electricity for transmission through the UK’s national electricity network from wind turbines built off-shore.

One of the most pressing issues raised by the public in the previous two consultations was the visual impact the turbines would have on the area and how it would affect the tourism industry.

An exhibition visitor, Michael Davey, said: “They know the view will be affected by the project. My question is why the bay, why not move it further back, because at the end of the day that is why we come here, for the view.”

Senior project developer at Navitus Bay, Daniel Bates, said: “For this round we have set up visual aids and 3D models which allow the public to see the park from various angles as it would look in real life along the coast of Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight.”

“We want to feed back what we got from the public in previous two rounds and also what we did with the data in connection with the project,” added Mr Bates.

But Navitus Bay is not only looking for public reaction to the project, it is also providing the public with information regarding the wind park.

As a result of the previous two rounds, the original boundary was pushed back 3.2 km from the Bournemouth shore and 2.9 km towards Hengistbury Head.

According to Bates, a final round of consultation will be held in autumn, and results from this round and the environmental survey will be showed to the public.

“As a developer it is important for us to know what the community thinks about the project. Through these consultations we want to know how all this will impact them, their life, their environment,” said Mr Bates.

But Mr Davey said: “It is nice they are telling us about the impact on the environment and all, but they should also tell us what they are planning to do about it.”

These concerns are some of the issues raised by the group, Challenge Navitus, opposing the Navitus Bay Wind Park.

“Visual impacts, effect on environment, navigational hazard, danger to birds migrating between here and France are some of the concerns we have regarding this project and is the reason why we are opposing it,” said Andrew Langley, of Challenge Navitus.

The opposition by the group is being considered by Navitus Bay. Mr Bates said: “It is an open exhibition and we are giving the public an open platform to express their views. Everyone is entitled to their comments. What we are trying to do is provide high quality and high accuracy of information to the public and and address their and the group’s concerns through these surveys”.

Challenge Navitus said they have reservations about the whole process.

“It is always hard to gauge public opinion. Also, the consultation has taken place over a period of two and a half years now. People don’t have the stamina to be engaged with it for so long,” said Mr Langley.

“Getting adequate information can be a problem sometimes. These surveys can only help if there is an independent body conducting them and giving the results,” he added.

Navitus Bay will continue to gauge public opinion through its surveys, but Challenge Navitus feels there should be an “independent body.”

Main image by shock264 on Flickr.

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