The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change has refused permission for an offshore wind project for the first time.
Ministers vetoed plans to build the facility at Navitus Bay, off the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, southern England, which is classed a World Heritage site.
EDF and Eneco have spent five years trying to install more than 120 towering turbines in the face of vigorous opposition. The plan has been scaled back twice in the face of protests from local Conservative MPs and councils who said the project would “industrialise” precious views and have “catastrophic” consequences for thousands of tourism jobs.
The developers said they had submitted two plans for consent: one for a farm with up to 121 turbines that could have powered about 700,000 homes every year and another further from shore with 78 turbines.
The developers say it would have brought up to £1.6bn in economic benefits to the area and supported as many as 1,700 jobs during construction.
The companies said independent studies had shown the tourism industry was unlikely to be significantly affected but had offered to set up a £15m fund for local councils to offset any losses that did occur.
The decision to veto the project followed an unusual recommendation from the independent Planning Inspectorate three months ago to refuse the application.
The agency has recommended all 10 of the large offshore wind farms it has considered since 2008 go ahead and in each case, ministers have followed its advice.
The decision is another blow to the renewable energy industry, which has seen Conservative ministers water down or scrap a series of renewable energy measures since regaining office.
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