CONCERNS have been raised about the impact a planned wind farm could have on Weymouth and Portland’s economy.
Councillors on Weymouth and Portland Borough council’s planning and traffic committee discussed their submission to the Planning Inspectorate in respect to the proposed Navitus Bay wind park.
A report put before councillors highlighted the potential benefits the wind park could bring to the area and also discussed the importance of ensuring that environmental constraints had been properly considered.
The report stated that there could be jobs brought to the area if the borough secured longer term operation, maintenance and servicing contracts. It stated: “Subject to competition with other ports, this could lead to the addition of 20 to 210 long term jobs and £5 million to £32 million gross value added, which would be significant contributions to the local economy.”
However, the report also highlighted that while the environmental impact of the scheme on Weymouth and Portland were not considered to be significant, designations could be affected including the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the setting of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
Councillors agreed to add in their concerns, including those about the potential impact on the fishing industry and recreational sailing to the Planning Inspectorate submission.
Stewart Pearson said: “I am very much in favour of renewable energy, but I have some questions about Navitus Bay and their proposed scheme.”
He said he wanted to know if the wind park would affect liners visiting Portland Port and if they had to detour round would they still visit the area. He asked whether sailors would visit the area if their sailing waters were restricted by the ‘metal trees.’ He also asked if ferry services would be affected.
He said: “At the end of the day there’s going to be vast profits for Navitus Bay out of this scheme. What’s in it for Dorset and the people of Dorset?”
Cllr Paul Kimber said that he was concerned about the Jurassic coastline and the fishing industry but added that he was mindful that locally they were on the verge of meeting power needs and that the South West was a net importer of energy from elsewhere.
Cllr Margaret Leicester said she believed the wind farm should be further off shore.
She added: “There’s far more to it than what’s being portrayed in this report.”
Chairman Mark Tewkesbury raised concerns that the wind farm would be built outside the area and brought into the area and wouldn’t bring local jobs.
The Planning Inspectorate has received 2,700 represntations about the wind park proposals.