Posted by: dorsetcpre | September 30, 2010


Report prepared by Peter Chance – CPRE Representative on Forum

The Dorset Coast Forum is an established Strategic Coastal Partnership made up of over 220 public, private and voluntary member organisations.  Its diverse membership includes the fishing, commercial, environmental, recreational, historical and tourism sectors who have expertise and local knowledge of Dorset’s coast and inshore waters.

Map of Portland Seabed

Map of Portland Seabed

The Dorset Coast Forum’s overriding aim is to promote a sustainable approach to the management, use and development of Dorset’s coast and inshore waters. It does this through its Dorset Coast Strategy, encouraging collaborative working, sharing of information and data, together with providing key links at Regional, National and European levels. The Dorset Coast Forum’s territory extends from Lyme Regis to Christchurch and out to 12 nautical miles at sea.The conference held on 18th May 2010 was attended by 118 delegates representing the many organisations having an interest in the Dorset Coastline and inshore waters.  The event was divided into three sessions.  It is only possible to summarise the content of each session briefly in a short article but I hope the following comments will give a useful indication of progress in relation to Dorset’s coastal areas. Further information about Dorset Coast Forum and the conference can be found at:

Session 1. Dorset Coast Forum business.

The following matters were addressed.

            (a) Marine Planning in Dorset – C-SCOPE.

This is a three year project funded by the European Union to achieve a seamless, integrated approach to land and sea planning management. The objectives are to:

  • develop a marine spatial plan for a pilot Marine Management Area, covering 1,000 sq km
  • develop a marine planning tool for planners, developers and other decision makers and
  • achieve commitment to Integrated Coastal Zone Management through stakeholder engagement.

            (b) Visioning the Sea Bed.

Previous sea surveys were greatly restricted by poor visibility. Modern high-resolution acoustic technology can now provide a high quality picture of the whole of the sea bed. The aim is to produce a detailed sea bed habitat map covering 800 sq km from Swanage to Abbotsbury.

            (c) Managing Change on the Jurassic Coast.

The Pathfinder Project has identified six communities that will be affected by changes in the Shoreline Management Plan policy from ‘Hold the Line’ to either ‘Active Intervention’ or ‘Managed Realignment’ in the medium to long term epochs. These sites are: Pennington Point Sidmouth, Charmouth, Seatown, Preston Beach Road Weymouth, Ringstead and Swanage.  The change in policy reflects the lack of economic justification for continued investment in sea defences. Workshops and public exhibitions will be used to engage the six communities in the project.

            (d)  The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

A national coastal path will be developed as a result of the Act. The first section to be completed will be around Weymouth Bay to coincide with the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events. The path will be managed by Dorset County Council.

Session 2. Assessing the Landscape and Seascape of the Dorset Coast.

This will be a core reference document with the final report due to be produced before the end of this year.  The project is the first to apply landscape character assessment to the offshore environment.  Landscape assessment is more than just scenery, it links landscapes and experiences.  The seascape assessment aims to apply the same principle to the whole of the Dorset Coast.

Session 3. Offshore Wind Energy in Dorset.

The recently designated area is known as the Isle of Wight Zone and covers 720 sq km of sea area.  Development of the wind farm will be carried out by Eneco, a Dutch co-operative company which has permission to develop 30% of the Zone. No other company has permission to carry out development within the Zone.  The nearest points of the Zone to land are 17 sq km from the Needles, 13 sq km from the Purbeck coast and 21 sq km from Portland.

The windfarm will consist of 180 – 300 turbines each with a generating capacity of 3 – 5 MW, a total capacity of 900 MW. However, the turbines are only likely to operate for 35 – 40% of the time thereby generating maximum of 400 MW.  To put this in perspective a large coal fired station generates 200 MW.

The turbines will be ‘new generation’ direct drive units (no gear box), thereby reducing noise when compared with the previous generation. Turbine size is not yet determined but in the worst case scenario will be rather like the Millennium Wheel placed on top of Big Ben. The cables transmitting the electricity will be underground from the coast to the point where they feed into the National Grid at Fowey, Mannington (north of Bournemouth) or Chickerell, (Weymouth). The final location is yet to be confirmed.

Development of the field will be an 8 year project commencing this year with scoping followed by consent applications, contract bids, port selection and construction. Generation will commence in 2018/2019.

Looking further ahead tidal energy off the Dorset coast offers great potential but the technology is ten years behind that of wind.

Coastal path near Lulworth

Coastal path near Lulworth

(Thanks to Matilda Bark, Dorset Coast Forum Policy Assistant, for providing information and the photograph of the Dorset Coast.  Also to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office for the seabed map).

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