THE vast majority of the thousands of people who have registered to have their say on the Navitus Bay wind farm are opposing the plans.
The controversial proposals could see as many as 194 wind turbines as high as 200m placed off the coast – 12 miles from Christchurch, 13 from Bourne-mouth and Poole and nine from Swanage.
The deadline to become an interested party with the Planning Inspectorate, which will make the decision on the plans, has now passed.
Around 2,700 registrations have been made, thought to be far higher than for any other offshore wind project, including the abandoned Atlantic Array off the south coast of Wales, and all are now available to view on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.
Roy Pointer, chairman of the Poole and Christchurch Bays Association, which represents a host of residents’ groups, said: “What is striking when you look at the comments is that the vast majority of businesses, individ-uals, MPs and NGOs are strongly against the project.
“Our analysis shows that 90 per cent of those who registered are opposed to this giant inshore industrial project for a variety of valid reasons.”
A wide range of organisation and individuals – including Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole – have raised worries over a raft of issues – including the visual impact, threats to boating and fishing and the potential impact on the area’s tourism industry.
But some of those registered are supporting the project, including East Dorset Friends of the Earth.
Angela Pooley, co-ordinator of East Dorset FoE, which is a member of BH Green, an umbrella group that includes the Green Party, Greenpeace, Poole Agenda 21, Transition Bournemouth, Transition Christchurch and Transition Poole, said it believed that the “negativity is misguided and based on anecdotal information and, sadly, a degree of ‘nimbyism’.”
She added: “The BH Green Group, including East Dorset FoE, believes that if we don’t move to more sustainable forms of energy, the negative effects of climate change will have a far greater impact locally and globally than the wind farm.
“Wind farms aren’t the total answer to providing sustainable energy, but they are part of the solution. Therefore we hope that Navitus Bay wind farm gets approval.”
And Christine Hanny, another supporter, said: “I am in favour of the windfarm as Dorset needs a source of local, green energy. It is 12 miles offshore into the Channel and will be barely visible to the naked eye.”
But Whitehall Hospitality, who operate two Bournemouth hotels and a tour company, said: “This proposal is too big, too close to shore and in the wrong location.
“There are many other locations where a wind farm could be located – why destroy a local tourist economy to make way for this one?”
And Jonathan Warner said: “The wind farm would be a terrible eyesore on the beautiful Jurassic Coast. This is a concept which would not even be considered in other countries.”
DORSET County Council has decided to cease negotiations with the developers of the Navitus Bay wind farm over a lease to enable cabling work for the project.
Officers had been in discussions with a view to granting a lease to enable cabling for the proposed offshore wind farm to run under the council-owned trailway at Avon Heath Country Park.
However, after the county council voiced its objections to the Navitus Bay scheme, members of its cabinet agreed that it would be inconsistent to continue with discussions regarding the enabling works.
Cabinet member for corporate resources Robert Gould said: “We are taking a consistent and coherent approach to Navitus Bay.
“It would not be appropriate in view of our stance on the scheme itself.”
Council leader Spencer Flower suggested that if the Navitus Bay scheme was successful the developers would have to look at the compulsory purchase route if they wished to pursue their plans for the cabling under the council-owned trailway.