Last year, proposals were drawn up to extend the 116-turbine wind farm off the coast of Worthing as far west as Selsey Bill and east along to Newhaven.
Despite being marketed as doubling the size of the existing farm by adding 116 new turbines, a scoping report has revealed the new rotors could dwarf those currently in operation.
The current turbines stand at 140m in height when their blades are at their highest, eight miles from the shoreline at their closest point.
The new plans would see 325m high turbines – the same height as the Eiffel Tower – installed at the same distance and a new 11-acre sub-station built in Bolney.
With these giants placed on the doorstep of Bognor Regis, for example, they would appear over four times larger than the current rotors many miles down the coast.
Dr Colin Ross has launched the website Protect Coastal England, arguing the extension could have disastrous consequences.
“Having a wind farm with such large wind turbines closer to the shore than any other in the UK, and spanning the whole of the horizon, would turn the peaceful seascape that so many enjoy here in into a completely unnecessary industrial power station,” he said.
“High spending tourists are likely to go elsewhere, resulting in a reasonable worst-case reduction of around 1,000 jobs in the Arun area alone. Entrepreneurs who come to invest, attracted by the sea views, will shun the area.”
The larger rotors would generate up to 1,600MW of power, compared to the current 400MW, and would cover an area five times larger than Rampion does now, according to the scoping report.
Dr Ross has argued leasing an area in the North Sea would be a more environmentally friendly option, where turbines can be installed 100 miles offshore with access to much stronger winds.
The Littlehampton Society has shared its concerns with the Rampion Two developers and joined members of the East Beach Residents’ Association in urging West Sussex County Council to carry out a robust consultation process.
Society members echoed Dr Ross’ fears and pointed out potential damage to marine life could undo recent good work in conserving and replenishing vital kelp forests off the coast.
Construction work would create damaging noise pollution, the society argued, and low-frequency sounds generated in and across the water in the long-term could have harmful effects.
The Government has set out a plan to quadruple its offshore wind farm capacity to 40GW a year by 2030 in a bid to reach carbon neutrality.
A spokesman for the Rampion Two development said Rampion represented the only suitable proposal on the south coast to help reach national targets and could power over one million homes and reduce carbon emissions by around 1.8 million tonnes per year, in addition to Rampion’s existing generation.
The developer ran a four-week informal consultation in January and February, the spokesman said, and a full, formal public consultation on more detailed proposals would take place over nine weeks this summer.
It is also ‘likely’ the new turbines will not be as large as the 325m maximum height proposed, according to the spokesman, who pointed out Rampion One proposed 210m high turbines before eventually settling on 140m high rotors.
Critics have argued Rampion cannot be described as an ‘offshore’ wind farm, as the definition for offshore is over 25 miles away from the coast.
The Rampion spokesman conceded the turbines could not be placed any further south due to the English Channel shipping lane, nor closer to the shore due to aggregates dredging.
The seabed would not be dredged as part of the Rampion Two construction process, the spokesman added, as the turbines’ foundations are piled into the seabed and cables installed over a narrow stretch.
“Construction is carefully planned to minimise impacts to the marine environment,” they said. “Anecdotal evidence shows that offshore wind farms attract marine life in the long term.
“All potential impacts will be assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment, which includes a wide range of marine surveys including birds, fish and benthic ecology.”
Chris Tomlinson, development and stakeholder manager at Rampion Two, said: “We understand that people will have concerns about a major infrastructure project, so we aim to provide as much information as we can to explain how the project is designed, built and operated to minimise impacts on the local community and the environment.
“We encourage people to visit Rampion2.com to find out more and to comment on our proposals when we hold the formal public consultation this summer.”