Local authorities are squabbling over who should have control over signing off plans for a wind farm in the English Channel.

Both the South Downs National Park Association (SDNPA) and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) are keen to take the lead role if the scheme is given planning permission.

The Planning Inspectorate, chaired by lead member of the panel of examining inspectors Lorna Walker, asked the two authorities whether a combined committee would be feasible to make the key planning decisions.

WSCC’s principal planner Jane Mosely said she was open to the idea, while David Cranmer, development management officer for the SDNPA, opposed it.

He said: “The national park would not be happy with a joint committee and I don’t see any situation where the national park would want to give away any power.”

John Houghton, representing E.On at the hearing, stressed the importance of one body taking a lead role in order to keep consistency.

Although the plans are still in the preapplication stage, the SDNPA says they would cause “irreversible damage”.

Keith Read, deputy director of planning for the South Downs National Park, said: “The SDNPA has significant concerns regarding proposals to build up to 175 wind turbines off the Sussex Coast.

“The plans would result in up to 420,000m² of disturbance to the national park’s landscapes, including some very sensitive areas such as the Bronze Age monument at Tottington Mount.

“We have submitted our concerns to the Planning Inspectorate regarding the proposed construction methods for the 14km of cable that would go through the national park.”

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