‘Ideological obsession against wind power’ stands in way of Navitus Bay wind farm, says MEP

Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has accused the government of an ideological obsession against wind power that is undermining thousands of potential jobs and a sustainable future for the South West. Last week the Tories announced they were cutting subsidies for onshore wind power projects and are also seeking to block the Navitus Bay off-shore wind farm in Dorset. Dr Scott Cato said:

“The Tories totally misguided opposition to on-shore wind is well known. But now Tory MEP Ashley Fox is seeking to block the very promising Navitus off-shore development in Dorset. While the government promise to give local people and local councils the power to veto renewable energy projects, they refuse such powers in relation to nuclear, fossil fuel or fracking projects. There appears to be an ideological obsession against wind power at the heart of government. This is undermining the huge jobs potential for renewables in the South West and threatens the sustainable future we all need.”

Navitus Bay Wind Park would be located off the Dorset and Hampshire coasts, to the west of the Isle of Wight and could produce enough renewable energy to power up to 700,000 homes a year. Earlier this year, Dr Scott Cato commissioned a report on the renewable energy potential for the South West [1]. This concluded that given the political will and the right investment the region could produce more than 100% of all its energy needs from renewables alone, with Dorset able to produce 101% of its energy needs. The report says that by far the largest contribution in Dorset – amounting to a third of all renewable energy – would be provided by off-shore wind, and Navitus would be an important contributor to this provision. Dr Scott Cato said:

“The reasons the Tories give for opposing Navitus are highly questionable. They say this development – at least 10km off the coast – threatens a UNESCO World Heritage site. Of course we need to safeguard this status, based on the outstanding geology which makes the Jurassic Coast so special. But such an objection from the Tories, who are quite happy for shale gas companies to frack under people’s houses, is quite frankly duplicitous.”

Greens are also sceptical about other reasons given for opposition to Navitus, such as a negative impact on tourism. They point to a survey on the likely impacts on local tourism, which found nine in ten businesses expect their business to increase or remain stable, while three quarters believe the Navitus Bay Wind Park would have little or no impact on their business prospects. Meanwhile, Dorset Green councillor, Simon Bull, has suggested the scheme could actually attract more tourists than it deters. Greens also argue that far from destroying local jobs, as some are claiming, renewables have the potential to create an estimated 15,125 full time skilled jobs in Dorset, a 4% increase in jobs across the county. Dr Scott Cato concluded:

“Surely the real reason for opposing Navartis and a host of other renewable energy schemes has more to do with the Tories close alignment with the fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies. They would rather prop up these dinosaur industries than usher in a renewable energy revolution that has the potential to empower local communities and power up the regional economy with clean, green energy.”

[1] The Power to Transform the South West See pages 23-28 of the full report for details about the potential for Dorset