HUNDREDS of people poured through the doors of Swanage’s St Edwards Church Hall to scrutinise the latest proposals for a sprawling wind farm planned off the Jurassic Coast.
The Navitus Bay Development Ltd (NBDL) exhibition, the last in a recent string of public consultation events on the controversial scheme, featured information boards, an interactive 3D model and the chance for residents to speak directly to wind farm representatives.
Navitus Bay wind farm, a joint venture by Dutch company Eneco and French power firm EDF Energy, could include up to 218 turbines.
Wind farm bosses scaled down the maximum from 333 in December, but each could still tower up to 200 metres high.
Opponents fear the offshore plant will spell disaster for the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, jeopardise Swanage’s tourism economy and affect wildlife and shipping.
However, supporters – including East Dorset Friends of the Earth – believe ventures such as Navitus Bay may prove instrumental in harnessing green energy and staving off an environmental crisis.
Swanage resident Roger Brewster, who attended Wednesday’s exhibition, said: “I’d rather have this than a coal-fired or atomic power station on my doorstep.
“So I’m for it in principle. My only concerns are will it threaten our world heritage status and what will happen to the turbines after they reach the end of their working lives?”
Meanwhile, Stewart Buenfeld of Swanage, said: “I appreciate the need for renewable energy but my concern is the site.
“This is an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are too many turbines and it is in the wrong place.”
Challenge Navitus, the Swanage-based opposition group in attendance outside the exhibition, has challenged the validity of the project’s official 3D model.
Mike Unsworth, NBDL project director, said the model had proved popular during the consultation events.
But Dr Andrew Langley, a scientist in mathematical modelling who co-founded Challenge Navitus, believes it is flawed.
“One key point is that the resolution of NBDL’s 3D display is less than one sixth of what the human eye can resolve, so the turbines are much less visible than they should be,” he said. “It is a bit like seeing something out of focus.”
So the opposition group has published video footage of how it thinks the wind farm will look on its website.
NBDL stress all their models have been formed using accurate terrain mapping, aerial images and engineering drawings to industry standard.
If permitted, the park will be 9.1 miles from the Swanage coast.