THE Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) has urged sailing clubs across the south to oppose plans for a huge offshore wind farm close to the Isle of Wight.
It has written to around 200 clubs calling for action against the proposed £2 billion-plus Navitus Bay development, raising concerns about the potential impact it would have on recreational sailing and racing.
Island yachtsmen have previously criticised the proposed site of the wind farm, some eight miles off the west coast of the Island, and warned it could affect events, such as the world-famous Fastnet Race.
But Eneco, the Dutch company behind the proposal, said it was committed to addressing the concerns of the sailing community.
Consents manager for Navitus Bay, Helen Cassini, said: "The perceived impacts of the proposed wind park are to be determined by an environmental impact assessment that is being conducted this summer. We will be conducting a comprehensive navigational safety risk assessment, which will assess all marine safety impacts.
"Furthermore, Eneco is consulting with organisations, such as Trinity House and the Royal Yachting Association, along with local sailing, yachting and racing clubs. Last year we held a meeting with representatives from local clubs at the RYS to provide information about the proposals. This meeting was generally well-received by all parties."
Cowes Week Ltd chief executive Stuart Quarrie said the proposed wind farm would pose a hassle, rather than a hazard, for yachtsmen.
"It’s no different to navigating around rocks or anything else. People are not likely to crash into it, any more than they are likely to crash into the IW, but it would be an added hassle for yachtsmen," he said.
"However, I understand why the RYS is concerned about a big wind farm in that location. It’s a busy area for pleasure yachting and it would affect offshore races like the Fastnet Race."
The first phase of consultation on the Navitus Bay proposal will close on Tuesday. The number and type of turbines is yet to be finalised but Eneco expects to submit plans in October 2013, with construction starting on 2016.