Consultation will close soon so have your say now
With a rush of last minute drop-in sessions announced by the developers of the vast proposed Navitus Bay windfarm, the third round of public consultation comes to a close just days away on 5 April. Written views and opinions must be in by that date to be registered.
Beyond the debate between camps ‘for’ and ‘against’, what’s becoming clear is just how few of the public in the affected areas are actually aware of this proposed 67 sq mile, 200-plus wind turbine development off Poole and Christchurch bays. This was reinforced at a public meeting hosted by Bournemouth councillors last Saturday, 23 March where many attending expressed shock at their own late discovery of such a coast-changing proposal.
The developers of the windfarm planned for well within the normal 12 mile limit, insist they are complying with pre-application procedural process but there are many who say otherwise, citing such instances as the public consultation exhibitions being poorly placed and without appropriate signage to encourage visitors. For example, Saturday’s public meeting attracted 400 attendees, while NBDL’s earlier formal Bournemouth exhibition drew just 200. The Poole exhibiton was way out of town at the RNLI HQ with not a single banner or poster. In the week of the exhibition in Swanage, with its shoreline the closest to the development at under 9 miles, there was no advertising at all in the local weekly press, and current full page ads completely fail to mention the 5 April close of consultation.
Wrong plan, wrong place, says the local campaigning group Challenge Navitus. But can anything be done? They say Yes. Even on national infrastructure projects of this scale, public opinion, if recorded, does count and warns: “Even if your opinions have not changed since the last round of consultation, you do need to write again as NBDL could argue that previous concerns were addressed by the recent small reduction in size of the windfarm. And be aware, that reduction was not primarily a reaction to public concern, but the result of an over-riding objection by Trinity House and the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) on a navigational issue.”
Meanwhile, Mike Unsworth, project director for NBDL, says: “Now people have had a chance to consider our plans, the surgeries provide a further occasion for them to ask the project team questions and collect project information. No new material will be displayed.
“Phase three consultation continues until Friday, 5 April and we would encourage as many as possible to make their views known. Project information is currently displayed in public libraries and on our website where you can complete an online consultation form.”
Challenge Navitus, which has independent information and visualisations that are well worth viewing on http://www.challengenavitus.org.uk/windfarm-animations.html, says: “Please don’t just complete the developer’s online form. It is vital to write to or email NBDL directly, and be sure to copy your MP, elected local councillors and consultees such as the RSPB, Natural England, National Trust, MCA and RYA so they also are aware of your views. You need write only one master email and then circulate using either the ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’ function. Be specific and clear about your opinions, clearly state ‘I object,’ or ‘I support’ so that NBDL knows how to categorise your response.”
For ease, contact details and points to consider can be found on www.challengenavitus.org.uk.