On 11 September 2015, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change made her decision on the application for a Development Consent Order for the proposed Navitus Bay windfarm. Consent was refused. The application proposals were controversial in the area, with a large number of objections.
The Secretary of State found significant and relatively long terms impacts upon sites designated AONB and Heritage Coasts during the 25-year operation of the project. Comparisons with the visual impact of the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm (which was granted permission) were downplayed. However, the project would not contribute to the quality of the area, but would cause significant harm to it.
The Secretary of State gave significant weight to the impact of the proposed development on the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site. The proposed development would adversely affect the use and enjoyment of the World Heritage Site, even though such impacts would be essentially temporary. Impact on other heritage assets did weigh against the proposal, but the Secretary of State’s view was that this alone would be insufficient to support a recommendation to refuse the grant of consent.
Whilst there would not be significant impacts on tourism across the area as a whole, there would be much greater impacts at a local level. The Examining Authority also formed the view that the applicant lessened negative impacts upon tourist-related jobs in the Dorset area. However, the Secretary of State noted that the proposal would bring employment and supply chain benefits to the area, which should weigh in favour of the project.
The Secretary of State’s view was that diver safety, in isolation, was not a matter which should lead to the conclusion that the application should be refused, where suitable mitigation in respect of diver safety had been included in any proposal. Operational and navigational safety, and noise and vibration, were not important factors in the decision.
Reuben Taylor QC and Alistair Mills were instructed by Bournemouth Borough Council in objecting to the application.
Paul Brown QC advised a consortium of local planning authorities.