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Navitus Bay Offshore Wind Park proposals

Information on the wind park proposal and Dorset County Council's role.

Update on Progress of the Proposal - 20 March 2015

On 8 May 2014, the Planning Inspectorate accepted for examination an application from Navitus Bay Development Ltd (NBDL) to develop the Navitus Bay Wind Park.

The wind park proposal is defined as a 'Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project' under the terms of the Planning Act 2008. This means that the application (known as a Development Consent Order) will be managed by the National Infrastructure Directorate of the Planning Inspectorate and decided by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The process is explained on the National Infrastructure Planning website (opens in a new window).

On 25 June 2014, Ava Wood Dip Arch MRTPI was appointed by the Secretary of State as the lead member of a panel of examining inspectors who are the Examining Authority (ExA) for the Development Consent Order application.

The Examination opened on 11 September 2014 and closed on the 11 March 2015. 

The findings and conclusions arising from the Examination, together with the Panel's recommendation will be sent as a report to the Secretary of State no later than 11 June 2015. On receipt of the Panel's report the Secretary of State then has up to a further three months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse the development consent. A decision is expected, therefore, on or before the 11 September 2015. That decision and the Panel's report will be published when a decision is made. Once the decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court, a process known as Judicial Review.

The Turbine Area Mitigation Option

Soon after the start of the Examination, on 22 September 2014, the ExA issued its First Written Questions. One question was directed specifically at the Applicant which asked if it would be possible that during the Examination the Applicant might offer to reduce the number of turbines below the current range and/or remove those closest to terrestrial viewpoints. On 5 November 2014 the Applicant published a document entitled Response to Deadline III - Appendix 43 - which, while maintaining its original position and reasserting its view that the significant benefits of the Project will outweigh the identified adverse impacts, stated that:

"In the event that the Secretary of State decides that the proposal does not strike the right balance between benefits and impacts, the Applicant believes that it may assist the Secretary of State to at least have available the option to reduce the number of turbines, removing those closest to terrestrial viewpoints".

The Applicant has published accompanying documentation outlining what it has termed the Turbine Area Mitigation Option (TAMO):

Following a call from the ExA for all interested parties to comment on whether the TAMO amounted to a material change of such a degree that it constitutes a new project, on the 13 January 2015 the ExA published a procedural decision (opens in a new window) stating that in its view the TAMO did amount to a material change, but not to the point that it constituted a new application. As such the TAMO was included in the Examination as part of the application received by the Planning Inspectorate on 10 April 2014.

Role of Dorset County Council

Dorset County Council is a statutory consultee and registered interested party in the process. The county council has played an active role in the examination and in influencing the decisions of the ExA. In addition to the submission of written evidence, council officers attended issue-specific hearings to present evidence (see below).

Dorset County Council's Position

Dorset County Council has expressed its opposition to a wind farm development within the application site for the reasons set out in its Relevant Representation, Local Impact Report and other material submitted to the Examination. With regard to the Turbine Area Mitigation Option, the county council recognises that while the option appears to have less adverse impact offshore (including offshore views from onshore), the high sensitivity of the coastal landscapes and seascapes to a development of this size and scale is such that it does not reduce such impact to a level which would overcome the substantive concerns of Dorset County Council. Furthermore, the onshore impacts would remain substantially the same as the original application.

The main submissions from the council are as follows:

Timescale

The timetable for determining the application is as follows, including some key dates within the examination itself. Deadlines are set by the ExA for receipt of submissions. 

Timescale for Navitus Bay Development Consent Order

Date

Event

 

11 September 2014

Preliminary Meeting (Examination opened)

6 October 2014

Deadline I: Various submissions, including of Local Impact Reports (LIRs)

20 October 2014

Deadline II: Various submissions, including responses to ExA's First Written Questions

5 November 2014

Deadline III: Various submissions, including comments on responses to ExA's First Written Questions

18 to 20 November 2014

Issue specific hearings. Dorset CC presented evidence on Biodiversity, Biological Environment and Ecology

25 to 27 November 2014

Issue specific hearings. Dorset CC presented evidence on:

  • Offshore and Onshore Seascape, Landscape and Visual Impacts; Onshore Heritage Assets
  • The World Heritage Site, socio-economics, tourism and recreation
  • The Development Consent Order (DCO)
3 and 4 December 2014Accompanied site visits by the Panel
11 December 2014Deadline IV: Various submissions
7 January 2015Deadline V: Various submissions, including written submissions on admissibility of Turbine Area Mitigation Option (TAMO)
21 to 22 January 2015Issue specific hearings. Dorset CC presented evidence on the DCO; Compulsory Acquisition and on the TAMO
29 January 2015Deadline VI: Various submissions, including responses to ExA's Second Written Questions
5 February 2015Deadline VI (a): Receipt of additional representations on the TAMO
5 March 2015Deadline VII: Various submissions including comments on revised draft DCO; ExA's second written questions; Report on the Implications of European Sites (RIES); and additional representations on the merits of the TAMO
11 March 2015Close of the Examination
No later than 11 June 2015ExA will submit recommendations to the Secretary of State
No later than 11 September 2015Secretary of State expected to issue a decision on the Development
Six week period following Secretary of State's decisionOpportunity for legal challenge (Judicial Review)
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