A nine-week public consultation on the proposed extension of the Rampion offshore wind farm is currently underway.
The new plans could see 325-meter-tall turbines – the same height as the Eiffel Tower and taller than the highest peak in the South Downs – installed and a new 11-acre substation built in Bolney.
Dozens of people from across West Sussex attended a community-led meeting at Manor House in Littlehampton on Tuesday evening (August 24).
Among the concerns raised was that the proposals would go against government guidelines, while also posing a threat to wildlife and the economy.
Dr Colin Ross, who started the Protect Coastal England website, said there won’t be any part of the horizon where you can’t see the turbines.
“There is no uninterrupted view,” he said. “You will see them almost everywhere.
“Nowhere in the UK are there wind turbines so big and so close to shore. It is unique.
“Tourism is what matters. People will come to spend money in our cafes and restaurants or spend time at night.
“What has been identified is that 50 percent will say they like wind farms, but 30 percent will say they don’t like them, and then 20 percent will say they will never come back.
“They will rather go to the neighboring coasts. They won’t come here. We’re going to lose about 2,800 jobs in West Sussex and about 1,000 jobs in that area, the Arun district.
However, “all the anecdotal evidence suggests that Rampion is a tourist attraction,” a spokesperson for the wind farm said.
They added: “The Rampion Visitor Center is expected to attract 100,000 people per year once the Covid restrictions allow it, and there was stiff competition from towns along the Sussex coast that wanted to host the center. reception.
“In addition, local charter vessels are in great demand to take tourists offshore to see the wind farm, from various ports along the Sussex coast. There is no evidence to suggest that Rampion has had a negative impact on tourism.
Last year, proposals were made to expand the 116-turbine wind farm off the coast from Worthing west to Selsey Bill and east to Newhaven.
Current turbines stand 140m tall when their blades are at their highest, eight miles from shore at their closest point.
The new wind farm would have the potential to provide more than one million UK homes with ‘clean, renewable electricity’ – in addition to Rampion’s existing power generation – and reduce carbon emissions by around $ 1, 8 million tonnes per year. It could create “up to three times the amount of energy”.
An underground cable route is proposed to carry electricity under Climping Beach to the Bolney substation in Twineham, to connect to the national grid via a required new substation nearby.
Campaigners stressed that they “support all forms of truly green renewable energy”, but said its new independent wind farm in Sussex Bay “will not be green”.
They added that if the project goes ahead, it will not use or connect to any of the existing turbines, onshore or offshore cable connections, or substations at the existing Rampion wind farm.
A spokesperson said: “Rampion 2 would be coastal – not offshore – it would be against government guidelines and policy.”
Two representatives from RWE made a virtual presentation and answered questions from residents during the meetings.
Project manager Vaughan Weighill said: “We would not be involved in a project that goes against basic government guidelines.
“The proposals have undergone strategic environmental assessments. We will see how we can adapt the current major proposals. “
On one resident’s concerns that the turbines were a ‘killing of wildlife,’ Rampion’s development and stakeholder manager Chris Tomlinson added: ‘We had to do two years of investigative data. We did this for Rampion 1 and are doing it again now.
“What I can say, so far, is that the original Rampion project was not considered to have a significant impact on birds at all.”
Of the 79 people who attended the meeting, 77 voted in favor of asking Rampion 2 to assess moving the turbines 25 miles offshore as a “reasonable alternative.”
A non-project evaluated alternative “should be the extension of a wind farm application to Dogger Bank,” the activists said.
A formal nine-week public consultation on the draft proposals runs through September 16 on Rampion2.com and is an opportunity for people to have their say.
The spokesperson said: “We welcome comments, concerns and suggestions so that they can be taken into consideration.
“We encourage people to visit rampion2.com to see our draft proposals in a series of fact sheets, maps, graphics and videos.
“We will take into account all comments from the consultation as well as the results of technical and environmental surveys, to further refine our proposals and select construction methodologies and environmental mitigation measures that minimize impacts. We will submit our final proposals to the Planning Inspectorate for review in early 2022. ”