Navitus Bay developers hand back part of seabed to Crown Estate

The developers behind the proposed Navitus Bay offshore wind farm off the South Coast of England have returned more than 500km of unused seabed back.

The Crown Estate originally awarded land off the Hampshire and Dorset coast to Navitus Bay back in 2010.

The developers have submitted plans for a 970MW wind farm scheme, and an alternative 630MW proposal, which have been subject to a six-month inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate.

A final decision on whether the scheme will go ahead will be made by the Energy Secretary in the autumn.

The Project Director of Navitus Bay, Stuart Grant, said: “Navitus Bay is very pleased to return 79% of the original development area it was awarded back to The Crown Estate. The project is committed to the two schemes submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and is currently awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State on consent. 

“Handing back control of the unused area to The Crown Estate is important to us and we will continue to actively engage in dialogue with local residents about all future decisions affecting the project.” 

Huub den Rooijen, Head of Offshore Wind at The Crown Estate, said:  “Today’s announcement marks an important step for Navitus Bay as it moves to a focused project agreement and hands back the remaining seabed. 

“The proposed schemes that the project has submitted for consent demonstrate a real commitment to the region and to the planning and consenting of projects that will help form the backbone of UK offshore wind development beyond 2020.”

But Bournemouth Borough Council, which has opposed the scheme, said the announcement was nothing more than a “smoke screen”.

“The announcement is designed to draw attention away from the fact that Navitus Bay wants to develop one of the most environmentally sensitive parts of the seabed with a vast wind farm that is too close to shore and will severely damage the sensitive natural coastline and local economy,” said Council Leader, Cllr John Beesley.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues