Campaign Success - Wind Farm Decision

Friday, 11 September, 2015

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns has today hailed the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s decision to refuse planning consent for the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Farm. This follows the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation that the application be rejected.
 
The proposal, which would have seen up to 194 200m-tall wind turbines installed 14km off the Dorset coastline, had attracted widespread opposition from local residents and their representatives. It had more objections lodged against it with the Planning Inspectorate than any other offshore wind farm to date, and a survey of local residents conducted by Conor Burns found that 87 per cent were opposed.
 
In their announcement, the Department of Energy & Climate Change said that planning consent had been refused because of the proposal’s adverse impacts on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site and other Areas of Outstanding National Beauty.
 
Commenting on the news, Conor said: “I have said from the very beginning that the Navitus Bay proposal would be bad for Bournemouth and bad for Dorset, threatening the UK’s only natural World Heritage Site and the tourism economy which is the lifeblood of my constituency.
 
"I very much welcome the government’s decision to refuse planning consent, which vindicates my own long-standing opposition to the proposal, as well as that of many of my constituents. I have spoken in Parliament on six occasions on this subject, lobbied the Secretary of State in their own Department and put the case directly to the Prime Minister in No. 10. I am delighted that our case has prevailed.
 
"While others were prepared to countenance this scheme, I opposed it from the very start. The developer should take note that we will fight any appeal with equal resolve. This scheme must now be at an end and the threat to our area removed forever.”

Monday, 15 June, 2015

Here is what Conor said during the late night debate:

11.5 pm

Conor Burns (Bournemouth West) (Con): It is a pleasure to speak for the first time with you in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. I congratulate you on your elevation. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) on securing the debate.

For those Dorset Members who were here in the previous Parliament, the issue dominated our lives. I looked this afternoon at the number of times I have raised the issue. I did so first on 12 July 2011, when the former Member for Eastleigh, Chris Huhne, was the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. I spoke again on 4 July 2012, 19 November 2013 and 5 December 2013. I posed written questions on 11 June 2014. I raised it at the Culture, Media and Sport Committee with the then Secretary of State on 19 January this year, and mentioned it as recently as 11 June 2015.

It is the biggest issue that confronts our constituents across Dorset. The point my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset made needs to be emphasised: every single one of us present tonight made it a major feature of our election campaigns. Opposition to Navitus and fighting its detrimental impact on my constituents in Bournemouth West was the No. 1 promise I made to my electorate in my personal election address. I am delighted to see new Members joining the fight—my hon. Friends the Members for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) and for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson).

I place on record the gratitude we all feel to Bournemouth Borough Council, and in particular to its leader, John Beesley, who has put the full resources of the council and its officers behind the opposition to the proposal.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset made an important point that is worth emphasising: more people registered as interested parties in this proposed development than in any other offshore development. I hope the Minister understands, but it should not be thought that opposition to the proposal is confined to those who live on the coastline or adjacent to it. When campaigning in my constituency, I was struck by the opposition of people in the north of Bournemouth—in Kinson and Redhill—and by the opposition in Alderney and Branksome East in the Borough of Poole. I was struck by the opposition, too, when I campaigned with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole.

Right from the beginning of the proposal, we said to the company and to Mike Unsworth that, if we could not see the development, and if the visual impact was minimal, we would be prepared to work with the company to bring it to fruition, but in the development zone that the Crown Estate provided to the company, it is strange that the only area it deemed capable of development was the area that is closest to the shore and that has the greatest visual impact.

I understand that the Government have listened intently to other colleagues and their concerns about onshore wind, and I understand the Government’s resolve to put the brakes on it, but I hope it is not the case that on is off and off is on. I hope the application will be determined on its merits. That is all any of us ask. We believe that the arguments against the proposal are absolutely compelling.

I hope the Minister also notes that, in everything all of us who have spoken about the proposal over the last Parliament and in the beginning of this one, we have not sought to take issue with the Government’s energy policy, and we have not sought to discuss the merits or demerits of renewables. We accept the Government’s energy policy to be exactly that. We contend that the application is potentially deeply damaging to our communities.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset quoted from the advisory body to UNESCO, which said that, if the development goes ahead, it will take the Jurassic coast from being largely in a natural setting to being largely in a man-made setting. We should be under no illusion about the fact that UNESCO will revoke the coast’s natural world heritage designation. It has done it in Germany, and threatened to do it to Mont Saint Michel.

The Minister will rise to speak in a moment, and I have great sympathy for her. She will be able to say almost nothing about this matter, because the application is under consideration, and must be considered quasi-judicially. I can see that you want me to wind up my speech, Madam Deputy Speaker, but the Minister would probably like me to continue a little longer.

Our constituents cannot understand that why the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation—which followed a lengthy public inquiry that took place throughout last year and during the early part of this year, and which has now been put to Ministers in the Department—is secret. We think that that is quite wrong. In our view, the matter should now be out in the open, and debate on it should be welcomed.

Some people will naturally accuse us of being nimbys, but the back yard of Dorset Members of Parliament is a world heritage site. I plead with the Minister to implore her colleagues to reject this case on its merits. Were the project to go ahead, that would be the beginning of the next phase of the fight, because we are united in our determination that it shall not proceed.

 

To read the whole debate click here

To see the debate on Parliament TV click here

  Friday, 12 June, 2015

Conor askes Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, the Leader of the House of Commons a question about Navitus Bay on the floor of the House as the Planning Inspectorate deadline is reached.  Here is a copy of the exchange:

Conor Burns MP: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today is the deadline for the Planning Inspectorate to make a recommendation to the Ministers at the Department for Energy and Climate Change after their long-running and hugely expensive public inquiry into the proposed Navitus Bay offshore wind farm.

Could my Rt. Hon. Friend tell me whether we could have time for a debate as to whether it really is appropriate that this proposal will remain confidential until the Secretary of State publishes her decision on the 11th September?

In the meantime, can he confirm that this has the opposition of not only myself, the Member for Christchurch, Poole, Mid Dorset and North Poole, Bournemouth East, North Dorset and anybody else I’ve forgotten in Dorset?

Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Leader of the House of Commons: 

Mr. Speaker, I can understand that he faces a challenge in remembering all of the Conservative MPs in Dorset because, frankly, in his part of the world there are now so many of them. 

What I would say to him is he is, as always, a powerful advocate for his constituency and for the county of Dorset. I know the Secretary of State will have listened carefully to what he has said. It is a sign of the concern that there is an adjournment debate that has been called on Monday by the Honourable Member for South Dorset. I know he will probably wish to make a point in that as well. 

I have no doubt the Secretary of State will have listened carefully to what he has said, but of course she has to do this job properly in her role in assessing these issues.

 

Conor is leading local opposition to the proposed wind farm off the coast of Bournemouth and is making sure that message is being heard at a national level.  Conor has led a debate in Westminster, condemning the plan as the "wrong proposals in the wrong place."

Speaking in Parliament Conor said the Jurassic Coast world Heritage Site was under threat from the development. "if the Jurassic Coast were to lose its designated status as a world heritage site, the tourism economy throughout Dorset would suffer drastically."


Tourism is Bournemouth's second most important sector of the economy being wroth about £475m directly supporting 8,500 local jobs, with a further 2,000 indirectly dependent on visitors.  The fight goes on.

March 2015

The Cluture Secretary has responded to a meeting he had with Conor Burns MP about the Navatus Bay Wind Farm by writng:

"I've been lucky enough to visit the Jurassic Coast and take in its staggering natural beauty for myself.  I"t would be a tragedy if future generations were denided this experience".

Conor said that the intervention of the Cluture Secretary was a powerful endorsement for those campaigning agains the proposed wind farm and added that objectors were making a compelling case for the rejection of this project, particularly as governments targets for offshore wind generations can be achieved without Navitus. 

Conor, a support of green energy, is against this project at this time in this location.

 

On 2 December 2014

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns addressed the final Planning Inspectorate hearing on the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm.

Following two written representations, three debates in the House of Commons and numerous meetings with interested parties, Conor reiterated his concern at the hearing over the damage that Navitus Bay would do to both Bournemouth’s tourism economy and the wider Dorset economy.

Quoting research carried out by Bournemouth Borough Council, the Bournemouth West MP claimed that the wind farm would cost 2,000 of the 10,000 local jobs supported by tourism, accompanying a fall in tourist income of £100 million per annum. This, he said, would be ‘a hammer blow to our local economy’.

He also raised his concern that the wind farm could threaten the World Heritage status of the Jurassic Coast, and revealed that he has spoken to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, about his department’s role in the process.

Speaking after the event, Conor Burns said: “Having been unable to attend previous hearings because of commitments in the House of Commons, I was determined to speak at this final hearing to represent the vast majority of my constituents who have contacted me to oppose this development. Bournemouth was last week named as the UK’s best coastal resort, and to have that reputation – and the tourists that come with it – threatened would deal a grave blow to the local and regional economies. I hope that the Planning Inspectorate will note the persuasive arguments that I and others have made during this process, and recommend that consent for the project be refused.”

The Planning Inspectorate examination is timetabled to end in March 2015, and the final decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change by September 2015.

 

On Saturday 10 May

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns addressed a public meeting of over 600 local residents to outline his opposition to the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm.

The public meeting was organised by Bournemouth Borough Council and was chaired by Bournemouth Borough Council’s Chief Executive, Tony Williams. The three-hour meeting aimed to provide residents with an opportunity to hear both the cases for and against the proposal, and to voice their own views.

Joining a number of other speakers, including Navitus project director Mike Unsworth, Council Leader John Beesley and representatives from Challenge Navitus, Conor outlined the grounds of his opposition to the scheme, declaring the project would be ‘very visible and very close’ and would greatly impact on Bournemouth’s tourism economy.

Navitus Bay’s own research suggests that Bournemouth could see a potential fall in visitor numbers of 32 per cent during the construction period and of 14 per cent in the longer term, which would have a serious impact on Bournemouth’s tourism economy, which is worth in excess of £425 million per year to the town and supports around 16,000 jobs.

After the meeting, Conor Burns said: “I am grateful to the Council for providing me with a forum to discuss the Navitus Bay wind farm. Although it is important to invest in renewable energy, the consequences in this case are unjustified. Hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs in my constituency are dependent on tourism, and I will continue to do everything in my power to represent them by continuing to oppose Navitus Bay.”

Representatives of the Planning Inspectorate visited Bournemouth on May 22nd

May 2014

Bournemouth West MP, Conor Burns, has launched a new survey asking for residents views of the wind farm off the Bournemouth coastline.

As you may already be aware, Navitus Bay Development Limited - an entity owned by Dutch Energy Company Eneco and French Energy Company EDF - proposes to develop a Wind Farm off Bournemouth's coastline. If it goes ahead it will consist of between 121 and 194 turbines, covering around a third of the visible horizon.

The survey should only take a few minutes to complete and Conor will read all of the responses personally and ensure they are heard by those behind the proposals, all the way up to the Secretary of State who will make the ultimate decision.

To take the survey, please click here.

Please forward a link to this survey to any of your friends and neighbours who you think may find if of interest.

15 Jan 2014

On Wednesday 15th January, Conor Burns MP welcomed representatives from the Poole and Christchurch Bays Association (PCBA) to Parliament for a drop-in meeting about the Navitus Bay Wind Farm. The PCBA, which represents over 40 residents’ associations around the Dorset coast, and has established the Challenge Navitus campaign group, explained to interested MPs why local residents are so opposed to the proposed wind farm.

The event attracted MPs from across the country, including members of the Energy & Climate Change Select Committee and provided a forum for the PCBA to make their case against the proposals.

Following the event, Conor Burns said: “Since taking office, I have been overwhelmed by the level of opposition raised by constituents to the proposed Navitus Bay project.  The wind farm would have an almost immediate detrimental effect on the local tourism industry and wildlife, and people across the country have raised their own concerns that our spectacular beach and cliff views could be compromised. I am determined that the any wind farm should at least be sited further out to sea, out of sight of the shore.”

PCBA member Philip Dewhurst said: “All the local MPs have been very supportive in opposing this development, particularly Conor Burns, who has been lobbying hard at the highest levels. A majority of local residents are opposed, and Conor has made sure that the issue is well understood in government.”

Research conducted by Navitus Bay Development Limited itself shows that 14 per cent of visitors will not come back to the town if the turbines are visible from the shore, and a third say they would not visit during the 4-year construction period, which would prove devastating to our local tourism economy, which generates £425 million annually for the town.

17 Jan 2014

On Friday, 17 January 2014, Conor Burns MP co-sponsored a bill brought before the House by Christopher Chope MP which sought to restrict the size, scope and funding for wind farms within 20 miles of the coast.

If passed, the Control of Offshore Wind Turbines Bill would place several controls on the size and proximity of wind farms such as Navitus Bay.  It would prohibit turbines from being built fewer than 15 miles from the coast of England and Wales and 20 miles from any world Heritage Site. Furthermore, no turbine built within 20 miles of the coast of England and Wales could exceed a height of 100m, nor could a group of such turbines exceed 100 in number or be constructed within 15 miles of another group. Finally, no tax-payer funded payments in excess of the current price of electricity would be made to turbine-generated power.

Following the debate, Conor said “Navitus Bay’s proposals to site a wind farm so close to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast amount to madness. I fear that any wind farm so close to Bournemouth could have a real impact on tourism and jobs – a fear heightened by Navitus Bay’s own research. Any Bill that would prevent such a wind farm being sited so close to shore is to be welcomed.”

The Bill returns for a second reading on 28 February 2014.

 

April 5 2012

An e-petition has been started on the Number 10 website urging people to voice their opposition to the Navitus Bay Wind Park which will blight the Dorset coastline with Eneco planning to build 150 to 240 turbines in Poole Bay, around 10 miles from Bournemouth and Poole, and eight miles from Swanage and Christchurch.

The petition reads, “We the undersigned are against the Navitus Bay Wind Park plans off the Jurrasic Coast by Eneco , though we are all for the needs of renewable energy , we just don't want this wind farm this close to our shores. It's the visual impact we are concerned about. Please ask this company to place it further out into sea where it's not visible.”

To sign the ‘No to Navitus Bay’ e-petition click here.

Commenting Conor said, “This petition is a chance for local people to make their objections known about the wind park.  I congratulate the local people who have started the petition and I would urge everyone concerned to take a minute to sign it.”

Mark Smith, Bournemouth’s head of tourism, is quoted in the Bournemouth Echo as saying research suggests the scheme could cost Dorset 500 of the 18,000 jobs in its tourism sector.

Still at consultation stage, the scheme will need planning permission from the government.  Conor believes Bournemouth should have some democratic input and has arranged a meeting with ministers Greg Clark and Ed Davey to press the case against.

Speaking to the Bournemouth Echo, Conor added: “We need to diversify our energy supply for all kinds of reasons. But there are lots of places you can out this without it being to the detriment of people.”

“I had a meeting with Eneco, the company doing the work, and I am putting them under enormous pressure to show us some visuals of how they will look.

“Basically as long as you can’t see it, we don’t mind. If they move it as close to the shore as they can, and build them as high as they can, they will have a problem with us.

“Tourism is the biggest employer in Bournemouth and anything that harms it I would be against.

“I want people to sign because my big fear is that people aren’t aware of what’s happening, and this will creep up on us and people will say: What did you do about it?”

E-petitions are an easy way for people to challenge and influence policy.  They can be started by anyone, and if 100,000 people sign an e-petition then it is eligible for debate in the House of Commons.

To sign the ‘No to Navitus Bay’ e-petition click here.

 

Sep 13 2011

Last week, local MP’s Conor Burns (Bournemouth West) and Robert Syms (Poole) met with Energy Secretary Chris Huhne MP to call for a re-think over the off-shore wind farm proposed for the Dorset coast.

 

Under current proposals, between 150 and 360 turbines would be placed around 10 miles off the Bournemouth coast. However, the plans have caused uproar in towns along the Jurassic Coast.

 

Raising the issue in the chamber prior to the Parliamentary recess, Conor challenged the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change over the proposals, and spoke of residents concerns over the sheer size of the project which is estimated to cover some 76 square miles of unspoilt coastline.

 

At a follow-up meeting held yesterday at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the local MP’s set out their concerns in detail, and challenged the Secretary to help find a compromise that will have a lower impact on Dorset residents.

 

The Secretary of State was very receptive to the concerns raised, and gave assurances that he would continue to monitor the development closely. More importantly, he did not rule out weighing in to the discussion if he felt that the concerns of local residents were not suitably taken into account by developers.

 

Commenting, Conor said: “It is imperative that Eneco listen to the concerns regarding the development and respond accordingly.

 

“My key reservation about the proposal is the visual impact that it will have on one of the most spectacular stretches of coast in the UK. Not only are these turbines going to impose themselves on the Dorset coastline by day, but the warning lights will emit a bright glow over the horizon at night. The proposed site is only 10.4 miles from the shore and these turbines will be a permanent scar on the sea view.

 

“The site available for the wind farm is vast, and I am yet to hear a convincing reason as to why they cannot be placed farther away from the Dorset coast.”

 

July 15 2011

This week Conor challenged the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change over the proposals for a vast wind farm off the south coast of Bournemouth, and secured a meeting with the Minister to discuss the controversial issue.

Raising the issue in the chamber, Conor spoke of residents concerns over the sheer size of the project, which is estimated to cover some 76 square miles of unspoilt coastline. Conor also raised the fact that local authorities were being excluded from the process, which is adding to the profound concerns of residents and local councillors alike.

Responding, Chris Huhne referred to the plans as “potentially a very interesting development that could have considerable benefits not just for the country as a whole, but locally ... The reality is that we need to find our electricity from somewhere, and that includes off-shore wind farms.”

Commenting, Conor said: “I am very clear that we need to get our concerns over to the Government.  This is a vast project which will be clearly visible from the land and each of these turbines will have a red light on the top which will flash throughout the hours of darkness.  We must be clear that our local economy relies on tourism and the beautiful beach and bay are central to that appeal.

“The way this proposal is being put forward is simply undemocratic.  Due to the distance from the shore the matter is for the Crown Estate and neither Bournemouth, Poole or Christchurch Councils have any planning power.  It will require a ‘development consent’ through the Planning Inspectorate but the final decisions on applications will be left to the Secretary of State.  That is why I wanted to use the opportunity of the statement on the floor of the House of Commons to press the Secretary of State to see local MPs so that we can make him aware of the strength of feeling on this matter.”