Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rampion: It's consultation, but not as we know it.

Hello and welcome to my blog. I hope you're enjoying the dying embers of summer and are gearing up for the kids return to school. 

Slightly later than intended, here is my report on EON's recent meeting with SBRA on Rampion Offshore Wind farm

On the last day for submissions on E.ON’s Environmental Impact Assessment Report, Chris Tompkinson from E.ON arranged to meet Shoreham Beach Residents Association , (SBRA),  to consult on Rampion Offshore Wind Farm proposal in the Church of the Good Shepherd’s church hall.

John Bradshaw, chair of SBRA, was present and shares some of his thoughts on the meeting.   

“I’ve done a lot of consultations and this wasn’t consultation as I know it. This was one side telling us what they were going to do.

I expected that, in fact I nearly said no, we don’t want a meeting, but you’ve really got to talk to them even though you know it’s a waste of time.

They came with a list of issues that had been raised before and we were told we needn’t worry about those because they’d all been dealt with, in effect shutting down any discussion.

I raised the issues of coastal waves and currents and they said that they were happy that there was going to be very little change and they were going to speak to Surfers Against Sewage on this fact. I asked them whether they’d done any wind tunnel tests on what’s going to happen to the waves and they said that had all been done and there would be no difference to it. They were asked about the movement of sediment and they wouldn’t commit themselves that there would be no movement.

They said they were going to create employment in the area and they will use local people wherever they can. They said they couldn’t make the wind farms here (in the UK) because there is nobody making them, but they said about local people making rivets.

They said that the power would supply Sussex and I said that the electricity goes into the National Grid but they didn’t actually accept it. When I asked where the power comes from when the wind’s not blowing and it’s a cold night, they said existing power stations.

They said that the wind turbines would have lights on them that would be seen from the land. There are going to be a lot of them, but they didn’t think that would affect anyone and if anyone wants to see what they’ve done before they should go along to Margate and take a look.

Maurice Pitchfork asked what they were going to do about the drop in the value of property along the foreshore. Unfortunately we couldn’t expand on that because the next people were coming into the church hall.   In fact when I told Chris Tompkinson we were going to have the meeting in the church hall he got on the phone in a real panic and said, “I’m not going to meet the public. I don’t want a public meeting.”

I asked John whether he thought they were treating us like idiots. “Yes,” he said, “they are. I think they know they are going to get planning permission and they were just going through the exercise.  It was simply a tick in the box exercise, which is what everyone’s been saying.”

Since that interview I’ve asked EON if they are prepared to hold a public meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment Report before they submit their application for planning permission. 
The short answer is no.

Many thanks to John Bradshaw for contributing to this blog and see you next week.

PS. Kiss me Kate was marvellous. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Rampion - Environmental Impact Statement part 2

Hello and welcome to my blog. It's lovely to see you again and I hope you have had a splendid fortnight.

Before I launch into part 2 of EON's Environmental Impact Assessment on their proposal for a wind farm off the Sussex coast (Rampion), I just wanted to give a big cheer to all the Olympic athletes who are giving it their all just up the road and along a bit from Shoreham. We've got tickets for the Paralympics and I can't wait to get there.

I'm going to write this blog at break neck speed because today, 8th August, is the last day to comment on EON's Environmental Impact Assessment and I'm off to see Kiss me Kate at Chichester Festival Theatre in about an hour and a quarter.

In my last blog I dealt with the potential impacts of the Rampion offshore wind farm proposal on sea users and promised to deal with the potential impact on marine mammals, ornithology and nature conservation this time around. Sadly I can't say too much on the possible impact on our local tourism industry because the report is a bit sparse on this point.  Under potential impacts it says:-

"The various project phases could have both negative and positive effects on the socio-economic situation of the region." (clause 2.8.127). Heck they've got more to say about the potential impact on marine mammals than on our £2 billion tourism industry, so let's sweep that under the carpet and talk dolphins.

Marine mammals. 

"The reviewed literature indicates that diversity of marine mammals in the eastern English Channel is relatively poor. Only bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins are observed regularly with harbour porpoises observed occasionally near-shore, long-finned pilot whales observed more often offshore and minke whales now seen more regularly in the western region of the English Channel. Grey and common seals are seen occasionally in the area but there are no known significant breeding/haul-out areas for either species in the region" (clause 2.8.60)

So what are the potential impacts on this group of sea-users?
  • noise and vibration from piling turbine foundations have the potential to cause death, injury, displacement or disturbance
  • collision risk with wind farm related vessel traffic
  • indirect impact from disturbance to and displacement of prey species
  • indirect effect such as.. changes in tidal regimes affecting tidal races (of particular importance for harbour porpoise) 
(clauses 2.8.65 - 2.8.67)

Marine Ornithology

"There are no designated areas of importance for offshore ornithology located within the vicinity of the proposed development" (clause 2.8.70)

The potential impacts on birds who use the ecological resources in and around the site (i.e fish there), or over fly it, include:-
  • a barrier effect on some species causing them to change flight path resulting in increased energetic costs of daily movements and migration.
  • increased collision risk
  • fish displacement from the wind farm area
(clause 2.8.75)

Nature Conservation

"Twenty-four Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance are recognised by the Councils of East and West Sussex, and Brighton and Hove" (clause 2.8.49)

The potential impacts on these sites include:
  • impact on nature conservation features during construction (installation of turbines, scour protection and export..vessel activity and accidental events such as fuel spillages) and operation (presence of wind turbines and rotation of wind turbines).
(clause 2.8.51)

I've run out of time to tell you more but remember, today, 8th August 2012 is the last day to register your views on EON's Environmental Impact Assessment before they move onto the third and final phase of the planning application. 

In my next blog, I'll be reporting on what John Bradshaw, Chairman of Shoreham Beach Residents Association, thinks of the proposal.