Plans for a south coast wind farm received their latest and probably final blow when the project was turned down after a public inquiry. Shoreham Port Authority's application to build 15 turbines at Shoreham Harbour in West Sussex was rejected by the Secretaries of State for both Trade and Industry and the Environment, primarily on the grounds of visual impact. They agreed the turbines would be "visually dominant and oppressive features." They also agreed that over a wider area the movement of the blades "would have a disturbing and intrusive effect which would cause a demonstrable loss of amenity for residents, as well as changing the visual character of the urban environment when perceived from more distant viewpoints." Local planning authorities had contested the application over the issue of noise and were surprised the decision did not dwell on this issue. Instead the ministers considered that the councils could have framed planning conditions to control noise emissions. The decison is a blow to Shoreham Port Authority's attempts to diversify into non-port business to help restore its flagging fortunes. The authority had hoped to replicate the success of Blyth Harbour in Northumberland where a wind farm has been contributing to the profitability of the Blyth port since January 1993, although the Shoreham project did not win a NFFO contract in December 1994. Wind schemes in south east England lost out completely in NFFO-3 when most contracts went to higher wind speed sites in Wales, and the north and southwest. The Port Authority is unable to say yet if this latest decision spells the end of its wind farm ambitions. "We accept what has been said, but we have not been able to give full consideration to the wind farm," says the port's Tony Vaughan. "We have other things on our minds at the moment," he adds, referring to the port's controversial role in the current hot issue of livestock exports.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol