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Navitus Bay Wind Park

Off shore wind turbine

Image: Daniel Pullan

In January 2010, Eneco, a Dutch energy company, was successful in securing exclusive rights from the Crown Estate to develop an offshore wind park off the Dorset coast. In April 2012 Eneco was joined by French energy company EDF in promoting this scheme. The area of seabed lies approximately 8.9 miles south east of Durlston Head on the Isle of Purbeck and 10.7 miles south west of Scratchell's Bay on the Isle of Wight, and covers some 59 square miles. 

The project, known as Navitus Bay Wind Park, if built will generate a maximum of 970MW. According to Eneco/EDF this is enough energy to power some 710,000 homes.

Generating energy from renewable resources is of crucial importance in the fight to stave off the worst excesses of climate change. The south west is blessed with a geography and climate that should be able to support a vibrant renewable energy industry. And offshore wind farms are part of the mix. However, while there is a great prize to be won here in terms of renewable energy generation, we need to work hard to ensure that any renewable energy developments are sited in the right places. 

Birds do collide with wind turbines, much in the way they collide with a variety of other man-made objects. While collision mortality rarely causes detrimental effects to bird populations we are keen to ensure as best we can that windfarms do not cause significant additional pressure. As well as collision risk we also consider impacts such as disturbance and cumulative effects as a consequence of construction, operation and decommissioning of wind farms. 

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The Devon, Dorset and Hampshire coasts are important for thousands of wintering and migrating birds. They also have important breeding bird populations. Many areas of both the coastline and its hinterland are designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the European Birds Directive and as Ramsar sites, designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. 

We anticipate that many thousands of birds will pass through the area proposed to be occupied by the offshore wind park, on migration. The implications of the wind park on these bird movements needs to be fully assessed.

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On the basis of the ornithological information submitted to date, it is likely that the offshore elements of the Navitus Bay Wind Park will have no significant adverse impacts on bird populations. 

However, the RSPB requires more work to be done on gannet populations and migrant bird species before it is completely satisfied with this development. We also have some concerns about the onshore works associated with cabling, and with other species. including Atlantic salmon and long-snouted sea-horse. 

The RSPB has engaged with the Navitus Bay project since 2010. We have attended meetings, presentations and responded to public consultations. 

In May 2014 Navitus Bay Development Limited (NBDL) submitted their project for consent, together with supporting information including an Environmental Statement (ES), which details the implications of building, operating, maintaining and ultimately decommissioning the wind farm on all important environmental features including wildlife. 

It is highly unlikely that Navitus Bay if constructed would not harm some birds, much in the same way every year many birds die in collision with windows, pylons and many other man-made objects. However, birds dying in collision with objects, whilst regrettable, does not necessarily lead to negative effects on bird populations. 

So, the key question for us is whether this development will cause such additional and regular mortality that it will lead to long-term declines.

We have now completed our analysis of the ES, and submitted a response to the Planning Inspectorate (a version of which you can download from this page). 

On the basis of the ornithological information submitted to date, it is likely that the offshore elements of the wind park will have no significant adverse impacts on bird populations. However, the RSPB requires more work to be done on gannet populations and migrant species before it is completely satisfied with this development.

However, we do have concerns about the onshore effects of constructing the cable route. These include potential habitat loss, due to the cable being routed in part across Dorset's world-famous heathlands and potential recreational disturbance caused by people being displaced (as a result of cabling works) into other protected heathland areas. In both cases we will be seeking solutions with NBDL.

In terms of other wildlife, the RSPB does have some concerns over the effect of the development on Atlantic salmon, but we defer to the Environment Agency's expertise on this matter. We also have some concerns over the effect of the Project on long-snouted seahorses and black bream, but will defer to Natural England and the Seahorse Trust's expertise on this matter.

It is important to bear in mind that our position is based on our interpretation of the ES, which in turn is based on our experience of dealing with similar planning cases. But ultimately a judgment must be made on the significance of potential impacts. Others may judge the matter differently – and we respect that. 

Ultimately, it is the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State that will weigh the evidence and make a decision on the construction of this Wind Park.

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January 2010

Eneco secures exclusive rights to develop an offshore wind park within 279 square miles of seabed off the Dorset coast (known as Zone 7) with a maximum capacity of 900-1200MW.

December 2010

Eneco produce their Site Selection and ZAP (Zone Appraisal and Planning). It identifies an area in the north of Zone 7 of 77 square miles which Eneco intend to develop as the wind park.

October 2011

Eneco produce their Detailed Preliminary Environmental Information (PEI) explaining what their research and surveying has identified to date. They also produce a Detailed Statement of Community Consultation.

December 2011

RSPB submit comments on the PEI to Enerco

January 2012

Eneco plan further rounds of consultation with stakeholders during 2012 and 2013.

December 2012

Eneco/EDF modify scheme reducing number and size of turbines.

October 2013

RSPB responds to the Proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park Preliminary Environmental Information 3 (see downloads)

May 2014

Eneco/EDF have submit their project for consent, together with supporting information including an Environmental Statement (ES)

June 2014

Deadline for registration of interested parties on 23 June in advance of public examination of the application. Each interested party submits a 500 word 'relevant representation' to the Planning Inspectorate. These can all be read here.

Downloads