07 November 2008
By Tom Halstead
PLANS to build an £800m windfarm off the Fylde coast have been blown out of the water.
The controversial proposals for Shell Flat windfarm would have seen turbines larger than Blackpool Tower just three miles off the coast of
But developers Cirrus Energy have pulled out of the project after failing to overcome objections about air safety.
The news brings relief for Fleetwood fishermen who would have lost one of their main fishing grounds.
An array of between 60 and 90 turbines were planned off Fleetwood's coastline but would have interfered with test flying from BAE systems at Warton.
A Cirrus spokesman said: "The project team has put a great deal of effort into addressing concerns raised both on the original Shell Flat Site and the subsequent application for cirrus Shell Flat Array.
"Unfortunately, despite these efforts and the relocation of the site in 2005 to overcome concerns about birds, it has not been possible to resolve underlying concerns about aviation and the project is therefore discontinued."
BAE Systems and the MOD lodged objections to the windfarm early in 2007 but it has been dogged by controversy from the moment it was found it was on the winter feeding ground of one of Britain's rarest ducks, the common scoter.
Objections from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and English nature led to the project being moved further north to the Fleetwood site. Even then Blackpool International Airport lodged complaints their radar system would be affected.
A spokesman for BAE Systems said they had worked with Cirrus to try to find a solution to the problems the wind turbines would cause for the Warton radar.
He added: "The sheer physical obstruction that a network of up to 90 turbines, at a maximum height of 177m, would make an already poor situation unacceptable.
"It would effectively be removing 27 sq kms of low flying test space in an area progressively constrained by the needs of commercial aviation.
"The safety of aircrew and our local residents must remain absolutely paramount."
Fleetwood inshore fisherman Mike Porter said: "I'm glad but there are still lots of other problems for us.
"There are so many developments going on out there with gas storage and other windfarms that they are going to put us out of business."
He said the Government should give the inshore fleet help to move to different grounds which would need different types of boats.
Blackpool North and Fleetwood MP Joan Humble added: "I know that Fleetwood fishermen expressed very serious concerns about the possible impact on fishing effort in that area. They will be relieved this project is no longer going ahead."
Cirrus put their first application in for Shell Flat in January 2003 when the site was 20 miles off Cleveleys and Blackpool. The new site was in deeper water and only part of it touched the Shell Flat sandbank.
Sue Kendrick from Blackpool International said: "We lodged an objection to the proposal in February 2007. At no point did we receive any feedback from our concerns about the project and were surprised to learn the proposals have now been withdrawn.
"We objected to the proposal because of its adverse effect on radar performance which is of paramount importance."