Conditional support for Rampion windfarm and calls for better consultation
Responding (BHFOE Rampion Windfarm 1st Consultation Response) to the first round of consultation on the Rampion windfarm which ended yesterday , Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is only giving conditional support to the project. The group says the windfarm is urgently required to reduce carbon emissions but that E.ON needs to do more to avoid damaging the South Downs National Park. BHFOE is also calling for a full 12 week consultation once the detailed environmental reports come out .
BHFOE welcomes the cabling on land being placed underground to reduce the landscape impact. However, BHFOE believes that E.ON has failed to demonstrate how it has avoided impacts on the National Park, particularly the Heritage Coast  for which inadequate photo-montages were produced.
Chris Todd from BHFOE said:
“We really want to see this development succeed. In this part of the country we have done little to develop renewable energy and we need to play our part. Rampion represents an important step towards reducing our carbon emissions and tackling climate change.
“However, that must not blind us to just accept any old development. E.ON needs to demonstrate that impacts on the South Downs have been minimised as far as practicable. We are concerned about harm to the Heritage Coast and don’t believe enough has been done to protect this area. It also seems odd that E.ON requires a 14km cable route through the National Park at a point where it is only 4-5km wide.
“We’ve just had a 12 week process which has been great at raising awareness about Rampion, but not so good as a consultation. The lack of information has made it difficult for people to really engage. The next round of consultation will see a mountain of information released, with only 6 weeks allowed for responses. This is perverse and many people will struggle with such a short timescale. E.ON should reconsider.”
Notes to editors:
 The formal community consultation has run from Monday, 13 February until Sunday, 6 May 2012 (12 weeks) but very little technical information was released. For example, the Environmental Impact Assessment was not published. The information that was presented was often inadequate, such as the lack of photo-montages from the Heritage Coast, which has made it difficult for the public to make informed comments on the proposals. So while the process has been good at awareness raising, and BHFOE has congratulated E.ON on this aspect of it, it has not really been a satisfactory consultation.
 Almost immediately after the close of the community consultation, the formal statutory consultation will start mid-May 2012 for 6 weeks. However, this will include the publication of substantial documents such as the Environmental Impact Assessment and other important documentation. These documents will take some time to read and only having 6 weeks to do this, draft responses and seek agreement from committees and boards will be difficult for many organisations and members of the public. The closeness of the start of second consultation to the end of the first also raises suspicions that the consultation process is more of a tick box exercise rather than a real engagement with local people. Given the short amount of time between the two consultations, it is unrealistic that E.ON will make any substantial changes, if at all, as a result of feedback received so far.
 The Heritage Coast extends from the Martello Tower in Seaford to the Martello Tower in Eastbourne, and represents the main coastal element of the South Downs National Park. This stretch of coastline is one of the few unspoilt stretches of coastline in the south east of England. The white chalk cliffs are an iconic image of England, particularly linked to images of the Second World War and have featured in many films.
Media Contact: Chris Todd 01273 553044 or 07889 302229