Reservations about Rampion Wind Farm extension voiced by Arun councillors

Councillors have voiced concerns over plans to extend the Rampion Wind Farm and want to see a ‘local impact report’.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 9:49 am
The existing Rampion Offshore Wind Farm near Worthing. Pic Steve Robards

Rampion Extension Development Limited (REDL) aims to submit plans to construct an enlarged offshore wind farm in 2022.

This would go directly to the Secretary of State, rather than the local planning authority, because the project would be built on Crown land and is labelled as a ‘nationally significant infrastructure project’.

This means the decision is out of Arun District Council’s hands but it is giving its input during a consultation period which is due to end next week (Thursday September 16).

Rampion 2 would be 13 km away from the coastline with turbines up to 325 metres tall. It would be an extension of Rampion 1, which gained permission in 2014.

During a meeting of ADC’s planning committee on Wednesday (September 8) councillors said they wished to express a ‘holding objection’ to the plans until a local impact report had been drawn up for submission to the Secretary of State.

Such a report might explore potential effects of the wind farm on the environment, tourism, recreation and ecology although the costs of producing one are currently unknown.

Members expressed concerns over the size of the turbines, the visual impact, the potential impact on wildlife, disturbance and low economic returns during construction.

Hugh Coster (Independent, Aldwick East) expressed concerns that any new turbines would ‘dominate the skyline’.

He said: “This is going to dominate the skyline with much bigger windmills than the ones that are there at Rampion 1.

“This is not an offshore wind farm really this is ‘in shore’ because it’s within the 12 mile limit.

“They are very large and very close and we have to consider the views to the sea issue very seriously.”

Green councillor Isabel Thurston (Barnham)  said she wanted to see a local impact report, adding: “It’s really difficult for me to say this but I don’t think I would be happy with us indicating approval or support until we got this impact report.

“The Arun River Valley is one of our most special and protected landscapes and we need to make it clear that we want to know exactly what the impacts are.”

Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) suggested that Arun approach other coastal authorities who had similar developments to ask them about the impacts. He also said that Arun should play a leading role in commissioning a joint area impact report.

Mr Bower said: “Just having a local assessment is not going to be good enough at all.

“We should be leading on this and asking other local authorities to join us – not the other way around.”

He joked that having the turbines in the Outer Hebrides ‘would be preferable’.

Mr Bower added: “I remain very concerned that this is going to have an adverse visual impact.

“It’s not just the visual impact -it’s the ecological impact, the marine impact.

“This is why I think the [impact report] has to be extremely wide-ranging from our point of view as the one authority that has the most to lose from this.”

Ms Thurston said she would also like to see the turbines further away but was told this was ‘not possible due to shipping lanes’.

Responding to an estimate that just two per cent of economic benefits during the construction period would be within West Sussex, David Edwards (Con, Felpham East) said: “We all know we’re in a climate emergency so this is a positive step.

“However why won’t we reap the benefits if we have to have this blight on our horizon?

“No one likes to look at these things but they do provide clean energy.”

Martin Lury (Lib Dem, Bersted) said he was ‘pro wind farms’ but that ‘eight miles off the coast is nothing at all’.

It is estimated that Rampion 2 would generate up to 1,200 megawatts of energy compared to the 400 megawatts produced by Rampion 1. This could provide green electricity for 350,000 homes, saving 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

However, the 116 wind turbines which will also have on shore features such as underground cabling and a sub station at Twineham, Mid Sussex, and would be taller than those at Rampion 1.

The wind farm is predicted to have ‘significant effects’ on the area as a result.

This could include disruption during construction, changing the coastal landscape and affecting a variety of species during construction on land.

Despite concerns over tourism, council officers said that potential impacts are currently unknown.