Monday, 9 April 2012

Rampion Offshore Wind Farm - best kept secret in Sussex.

Hello and welcome to my blog.

As with the last one, I'm getting straight down to business;  Rampion Offshore Wind Farm proposal.

This is a proposal to locate one of the world's biggest wind farms around 13 km off the Sussex coast. It would cover an overall area of 271km2 (28km east to west and 10 km north to south), upon which would be located 195 wind turbines and two sub-stations. On shore there would be a new sub-station at Bolney.

EON predict that Rampion could generate enough electricity for the domestic needs of around 450,000 homes per year based on an average annual domestic household electricity consumption of 4,700kWh and "could avoid the emission of over 920,000 tonnes of COeach year which would otherwise have been released by conventional power stations."

It is at planning/concept stage and we have until 6th May to make our feelings known.

It's hard to get an idea of scale when you are dealing with these sorts of figures but this short BBC film on Walney Offshore Wind Farm, the current title holder for the world's biggest wind farm, may help. Rampion would be on a much larger as Walney has 102 smaller turbines covering 73km2.

So if Rampion went ahead what would be the main impacts?

1. Visual. The seascape will change. The wind turbines will be visible from the shore and the Downs. EON's short animation gives an idea of just how visible and you can look at their photomontages. By way of comparison I've included a photo of the wind turbines at Walney. Be aware that the mast heights at Walney are 46 meters shorter than those proposed at Rampion.

One man's meat is another man's poison where turbines are concerned and we can't have our cake and eat it.

2. Noise. Difficult to tell from the consultation document so you may want to ask them direct on If you do, you may want to consider the concerns that were raised by the Senior Environmental Health Officer at Brighton and Hove in October 2010:-

"There is also evidence to suggest that wind farms may and can create low frequency noise which is able to travel long distances very easily...I also note that no consideration has been given to the construction noise off shore.  I note from the information provided that construction could be up to 4 years in length. Discussions with my counterparts in other local authorities have identified that the overnight construction of off shore wind turbines did attract complaints from land based residents and additionally the cabling procedures were also very noisy, again attracting complaints."

As EON didn't really cover it in their Community Consultation Document, I'll let you know what they said about the impact of Rampion on the seabed, geology, fish and shellfish, marine mammals, marine archeology, socio-economic, landscape and seascape, commercial fisheries, navigation and shipping, ecology and nature conservation in their scoping report. If you can't wait, go to EON Scoping Report  and read what is says under key potential environmental impacts.  You may want to have a stiff drink before you do.

So how come so many people don't know even the most basic elements of the proposal?

A clue can be found in the numbers that have attended EON's public consultations. 1.5 million people live in Sussex and only 4,500 people have been to see them. More people than that live on Shoreham Beach so I believe that EON's choice of venues was questionable. For instance, they went to Holmbush Shopping Centre on a Monday afternoon not at the weekend when the public would be there in large numbers. EON went to St Paul's Chapel Road Worthing on a Saturday. Why there and not Sainsbury's Lyons Farm or Montague Street where large numbers of the public would be? Why didn't they go to Brighton Seafront or Churchill Square, again where large numbers of people gather?

If you noticed the Community Consultation Document in the library, when you started to read it you may have found the length, technical detail and vagueness unhelpful. I did. For example why compare Rampion with Scroby Sands Offshore Wind Farm? Scroby Sands has 30 wind turbines and the height is108m to the tip of the blade. Rampion would be up to 195 turbines with between 180m-210m to the blade tip.  Surely a more helpful comparison would have been with Walney offshore wind farm?

Time is running short to have your say so if you have concerns about how the consultation was carried out or about the proposal go to EON and your MPs, Tim Loughton, Peter Bottomley, Simon Kirby, Dr Caroline Lucas , Mike Weatherley. If you don't, you are assumed to be indifferent or in favour.

Ta-ra for a short time. Won't be gone for long.

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