UPDATE: Wind farm plans may put Dorset World Heritage Site 'at risk'

Wind farm plans put Dorset World Heritage Site 'at risk'

Wind farm plans put Dorset World Heritage Site 'at risk'

First published in News
Last updated

THE JURASSIC Coast could lose its prized World Heritage status if the giant offshore wind farm is built.

A conservation body which advises the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) fears that the Navitus Bay project would damage the unique coastline.

Businesses now fear that if designation was withdrawn it would have a detrimental impact on tourism.

The concerns were raised by Kishore Rao, director of the World Heritage Centre of Unesco in response to a submission from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Mr Rao said that the wind farm proposal would change the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site to a natural setting dominated by man-made structures.

The World Heritage Site stretches from east Devon to Swanage.

Mr Rao also suggested the farm could be in contradiction to the overarching principle of the World Heritage Convention.

Mr Rao was conveying the reservations of the International Union for Conservation of Nat-ure, an advisory body that advises the World Heritage Committee.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax has echoed concerns raised Mr Rao.

Mr Drax said: “I wrote to Unesco in July 2012 about the threat that such a vast, industrial, offshore complex could pose to this, the sole World Heritage Site of Outstanding Uni-versal Value in England.

“I am delighted that they seem to agree with me although I am concerned that our designation may be threatened.”

Mr Drax said the wind farm would have far reaching repercussions, including sediment disturbance, constant sound, low frequency hums, and light flicker.

He added: “When proposals for just three wind turbines threatened another World Heritage Site, the Mont Saint Michel in France, Unesco threat- ened to withdraw their world heritage status. The French government was forced to draw a 20km exclusion zone around the Mont.

“At the very least, I hope for a similar result here. Better still, Navitus Bay will follow Unesco’s suggestion and place this monstrosity of a wind farm elsewhere.”

This committee is responsible for taking decisions regarding the status of World Heritage sites.

A spokesman for Unesco however said no final assessment had been made.

Discussing Mr Rao’s letter, the spokesman said: “It raised questions regarding the potentially negative impact of Navitus Bay on the World Heritage Site of Dorset and East Devon Coast.

“But in his letter Mr Rao also pointed out that further study was required to assess that impact.

“The Navitus Bay project has given rise to regular exchanges of views and the project has evolved over recent years. There is no final assessment, positive or negative, of the project at present.

In a statement, Mike Unsworth, project director at Navitus Bay, said: “We will be seeking further clarification as the interim comments are not aligned with the independent heritage impact assessment provided in the Environmental Statement or the conclusion of DCMS provided in February 2014.”

Mr Unsworth said the conclusion read: “Our overall conclusion, on the basis of the evidence presented so far, is that while the proposed wind farm will have some impact on the World Heritage property, there should be no significant impact on Outstanding Universal Value.”

Mr Unsworth added that the protected site was limited to the shoreline itself and the nearest turbine would be located 14.3km from the coast.

The Jurassic Coast was awarded World Heritage Site status by Unesco in December 2001.

The site was formally opened by the Prince of Wales in October 2002. It was England’s first natural World Heritage Site.

The 95-mile stretch of coast represents 185 million years of the Earth’s history.

Visual impact on Jurassic tourists

Richard Edmonds, Jurassic Coast science manager at Dorset County Council, said the wind farm proposals wouldn’t affect the physical aspects of the site.

He said: “We don’t think that the change to the wave climate will have a significant effect on the site. If it slows erosion down significantly, that would be an impact.”

Mr Edmonds said it would be for Unesco to decide whether the site’s heritage status is threatened.

He said: “It’s such a huge project. It involves so many different disciplines. It’s quite challenging.”

Mr Edmonds nevertheless admitted that he was concerned about the proposal’s visual impact and how this would affect people’s experience of the coast.

Denys Brunsden, a geomorphologist specialising in landslides and coastal erosion, said the World Heritage Site, which stems from the low water to the top of the cliffs, had an outstanding universal value.

He said: “If something has an outstanding universal value, it means it is valuable to everyone on the planet.”

The Jurassic Coastline is protected through existing UK legislation that applies to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s). There are thirteen sites that cover the coast.

There are also 66 Geological Conservation Review sites that cover the core values of the site for geology.

The site is also largely protected by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designations.

Professor Brunsden added: “When a World Heritage Site is designated it will only be designated if it is protected all the way around by a buffer zone.”

“This is probably one of the most protected inland coasts in the world.”

Councillors to discuss application

County councillors will discuss the Navitus Bay Wind Park application next Tuesday at a planning committee.

They will consider a report by Don Gobbett, head of planning, looking at the positive and negative aspects of the Navitus Bay application.

Key considerations will include the potential impact on the Jurassic Coast’s World Heritage status.

County councillor Mike Lovell, pictured, who represents Purbeck Hills and sits on the planning committee, said he wanted to listen to all of the arguments.

He said: “I’m hoping that we will have some good reasons for any recommendations we make – or what we put forward – to the government.

“If the status was at risk I think we would all be very upset. Tourism in the area needs to be looked after.”

He added: “We will do what we can and hopefully the government will listen. It’s the minister who will make the final decision.”

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

6:24pm Tue 27 May 14

John New says...

Unfortunately given this government's roughshod attitude to the environment as evidence by the pro-fracking argument the Navitus Bay go ahead is a fait accompli and UNESCO ignored. Not a good news story at all.
Unfortunately given this government's roughshod attitude to the environment as evidence by the pro-fracking argument the Navitus Bay go ahead is a fait accompli and UNESCO ignored. Not a good news story at all. John New
  • Score: -3

7:04pm Tue 27 May 14

TenBobDylanThomasHardy says...

But surely, John, this is good news for the Environment, better then than Fossil-fuels?
But surely, John, this is good news for the Environment, better then than Fossil-fuels? TenBobDylanThomasHardy
  • Score: 0

7:27pm Tue 27 May 14

Sorted Echo says...

So it's ok for Drax to have his own 175-acre solar farm but he objects to an offshore wind farm that's by it's nature out at sea away from residential areas.
His reasoning is laughable when he cites sediment disturbance, constant sound, low frequency hums, light flicker, rain shadows, radar shadows and physical obstacles to bird and marine life. Of course there will be temporary sediment while they anchor the footings to the sea bed. Who exactly is going to hear any noise with the turbines way off shore? Light flickers and shadows, really lets have some perspective on this... how can it possibly be a bad thing for humanity to reach for more sustainable ways of powering our energy rich needs. It seems to be the old guard who object the most yet simultaneously endorsing fracking, and nuclear despite the fact that the writing is on the wall when the reserves run out or we have our own Fukushima. It's time to see the bigger picture, sure the proposal is for a massive number of turbines but the technology works, as does solar to a lesser degree but Drax already knows this!
So it's ok for Drax to have his own 175-acre solar farm but he objects to an offshore wind farm that's by it's nature out at sea away from residential areas. His reasoning is laughable when he cites sediment disturbance, constant sound, low frequency hums, light flicker, rain shadows, radar shadows and physical obstacles to bird and marine life. Of course there will be temporary sediment while they anchor the footings to the sea bed. Who exactly is going to hear any noise with the turbines way off shore? Light flickers and shadows, really lets have some perspective on this... how can it possibly be a bad thing for humanity to reach for more sustainable ways of powering our energy rich needs. It seems to be the old guard who object the most yet simultaneously endorsing fracking, and nuclear despite the fact that the writing is on the wall when the reserves run out or we have our own Fukushima. It's time to see the bigger picture, sure the proposal is for a massive number of turbines but the technology works, as does solar to a lesser degree but Drax already knows this! Sorted Echo
  • Score: 4

8:28pm Tue 27 May 14

portland rebel says...

from what i have read and seen, this site will not be visible from the weymouth area, but visible from swanage, so no real threat to us, on the upside it may bring employment to portland,
from what i have read and seen, this site will not be visible from the weymouth area, but visible from swanage, so no real threat to us, on the upside it may bring employment to portland, portland rebel
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Tue 27 May 14

mooninpisces says...

The Statement of Universal Value lodged with UNESCO makes it clear that the Jurassic Coast's World Heritage designation is based on geological significance, not sea views.

I wonder how much this intervention by Mr Rao has been triggered by the lobbying of Richard Drax, who seems more interested in exploiting the issue for his own political ends than in protecting the Coast's World Heritage status. His "far reaching repercussions" appear not to include any that relate to the geology of the site.
The Statement of Universal Value lodged with UNESCO makes it clear that the Jurassic Coast's World Heritage designation is based on geological significance, not sea views. I wonder how much this intervention by Mr Rao has been triggered by the lobbying of Richard Drax, who seems more interested in exploiting the issue for his own political ends than in protecting the Coast's World Heritage status. His "far reaching repercussions" appear not to include any that relate to the geology of the site. mooninpisces
  • Score: 0

9:20pm Tue 27 May 14

slayerofsacredcows says...

There are 2 separate issues here: The positioning of the windfarm and in particular the affect on the Jurassic Coast and tourism AND the uneconomic and unreliable nature of offshore windfarms as a means of reducing carbon emissions.
As to the position: The nearest turbine will be 14.3km from the nearest point. Government Guidelines recommend a minimum of 20km. The French had to create a 20km exclusion zone from Mont St Michel. World Heritage rules demand a 20km exclusion zone. Therefore there should be no turbines within 20km of the Jurassic coast. Not difficult to grasp is it (Unless you are in Government ).

Now the second point, the uneconomic and variable nature of offshore wind farms. The subsidy built into the strike price is twice that for either nuclear generation or onshore wind. And this doesn't take into account the cost of providing back up for when the wind does not blow - Do you really want all the lights to go out?
Yes we need to find ways of reducing our carbon emissions, but offshore wind farms are not the solution. Other better technologies are not being developed because wind farms are taking all the money!
Coal, Gas and Nuclear give 90% plus availability. Wind only about 30%. Tidal possibly gives about 60% and Hydro probably more than this, provided we don't have a drought. Solar is reasonably predictable but doesn't work at night, so you get less in winter, when you need it the most!
Of course two thirds of domestic energy usage is for heating, which for most people is gas. Insulating your home, turning down the temperature on the thermostat by one degree and dealing with the draughts, if we all do it, will have a far greater impact than all the windfarms in existence and planned!
There are 2 separate issues here: The positioning of the windfarm and in particular the affect on the Jurassic Coast and tourism AND the uneconomic and unreliable nature of offshore windfarms as a means of reducing carbon emissions. As to the position: The nearest turbine will be 14.3km from the nearest point. Government Guidelines recommend a minimum of 20km. The French had to create a 20km exclusion zone from Mont St Michel. World Heritage rules demand a 20km exclusion zone. Therefore there should be no turbines within 20km of the Jurassic coast. Not difficult to grasp is it (Unless you are in Government ). Now the second point, the uneconomic and variable nature of offshore wind farms. The subsidy built into the strike price is twice that for either nuclear generation or onshore wind. And this doesn't take into account the cost of providing back up for when the wind does not blow - Do you really want all the lights to go out? Yes we need to find ways of reducing our carbon emissions, but offshore wind farms are not the solution. Other better technologies are not being developed because wind farms are taking all the money! Coal, Gas and Nuclear give 90% plus availability. Wind only about 30%. Tidal possibly gives about 60% and Hydro probably more than this, provided we don't have a drought. Solar is reasonably predictable but doesn't work at night, so you get less in winter, when you need it the most! Of course two thirds of domestic energy usage is for heating, which for most people is gas. Insulating your home, turning down the temperature on the thermostat by one degree and dealing with the draughts, if we all do it, will have a far greater impact than all the windfarms in existence and planned! slayerofsacredcows
  • Score: 0

9:33am Wed 28 May 14

annotater says...

Why do we in the UK have to pay extortionate "Green" taxes when Eastern Europe and China/Russia is producing even more CO? It strikes me as unfair.
Why do we in the UK have to pay extortionate "Green" taxes when Eastern Europe and China/Russia is producing even more CO? It strikes me as unfair. annotater
  • Score: 0

2:32pm Wed 28 May 14

mr commonsense says...

Funny how on this particular item all the comments so far are entirely rational, rather than the usual nonsense. So whether you are for wind or not let's keep the debate going.
I do not understand how t he constant comment of wind being unreliable is a reason for not doing it. It is all very well to say other forms of energy creation are being developed. The problem here is the when. We need energy now, wind is not the solution it is only part of the solution. How something 8 miles out to sea spoils the view of the Jurassic Coast will have an impact on tourism is risible, many days in the UK you won't be able to see that far and having travelled recently to many European countries where wind is generating a great deal of electricity both on and off shore, I find the turbines very relaxing. Similar to watching fish swim around in a tank.
I like the argument for nuclear, build it for billions of of £'s and then wait for a technical problem, perhaps creating severe health problems then in years to come shut it down (Winfrith) and spend millions more pulling it down, this has to be bad for a small island. Navitus Bay will be good for tourism and I for one totally support it.
Funny how on this particular item all the comments so far are entirely rational, rather than the usual nonsense. So whether you are for wind or not let's keep the debate going. I do not understand how t he constant comment of wind being unreliable is a reason for not doing it. It is all very well to say other forms of energy creation are being developed. The problem here is the when. We need energy now, wind is not the solution it is only part of the solution. How something 8 miles out to sea spoils the view of the Jurassic Coast will have an impact on tourism is risible, many days in the UK you won't be able to see that far and having travelled recently to many European countries where wind is generating a great deal of electricity both on and off shore, I find the turbines very relaxing. Similar to watching fish swim around in a tank. I like the argument for nuclear, build it for billions of of £'s and then wait for a technical problem, perhaps creating severe health problems then in years to come shut it down (Winfrith) and spend millions more pulling it down, this has to be bad for a small island. Navitus Bay will be good for tourism and I for one totally support it. mr commonsense
  • Score: 1

3:29pm Wed 28 May 14

Rocksalt says...

If the turbines are that far off-shore, I am struggling to see how they will damage the coastline.
If the turbines are that far off-shore, I am struggling to see how they will damage the coastline. Rocksalt
  • Score: 1

4:20pm Wed 28 May 14

albula40 says...

http://www.dailymail
.co.uk/news/article-
2641614/Britain-wind
-farms-hit-green-tar
gets-David-Camerons-
chief-climate-adviso
r-claims.html

An interestIng article on this subject
http://www.dailymail .co.uk/news/article- 2641614/Britain-wind -farms-hit-green-tar gets-David-Camerons- chief-climate-adviso r-claims.html An interestIng article on this subject albula40
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree