Bournemouth Council and the town’s Tourism Management Board remains highly concerned at the uncertainty around the siting of a wind farm off the Dorset coast. People visit Bournemouth and the surrounding Dorset coastal area because of the natural environment – the bay, the beaches, the Jurassic Coast. So, what would the impact be of a wind farm visible from the shore, how would it affect the view out to sea and what would this mean for Bournemouth and the wider Dorset economy? Mark Smith, Head of Tourism, explains.
The most comprehensive research into the impact of visible wind farms on an area’s income from visitors has been undertaken in Scotland.
This indicated a potential reduction in visitors of between one per cent and seven per cent as people seeking uninterrupted vistas say they would take their business elsewhere. As percentages these figures seem small, but the impact on our town in financial terms is significant, with that percentage representing a potential loss to the county’s economy of £20million a year.
It is vital that Eneco conducts comprehensive, robust research into the actual likely effect of the Navitus Bay project.
To form their views, people need accurate images of what the wind farm would look like. Images that have been used so far are not comprehensive, and I am pleased to see this at last being acknowledged by Eneco.
For over a year we have been asking for realistic photo-montages of what the wind farm would look like, and I hope that now Eneco will now make these available.
The Dutch company Eneco has proven high standards in the siting of their other wind farm, off the coast of Holland.
They proudly state that the siting, beyond the horizon, will not cause detriment to residents or holidaymakers there, because it is out of sight.
We are simply demanding the same standards and treatment for Bournemouth. Although it is the Government and not the council who will eventually make the decision on the wind farm, we will be pressing to ensure that the same principles apply as those placed on any individual or developer seeking land-based planning approval. No-one locally would be awarded planning permission without first submitting clear and accurate drawings of what the final structure will look like. An off-shore wind farm should be no exception.
As a council and a tourism industry, we want to work with Eneco to reach a solution.
But Eneco must bring meaningful data and information to the table. So far they have failed in this respect, I hope that this time they will manage it.