THE company behind the Navitus wind farm plan has been criticised for using a cartoon mascot to support the scheme.
The brightly coloured barnacle, Billy, was created by developer Navitus Bay Development Ltd, which has have submitted a planning application for a £3 billion wind park 12 miles off the coast of Bournemouth.
If accepted, the site could include up to 218 turbines up to 650ft high generating power for up to 790,000 homes a year.
Billy stars in the KidZone section of the company’s website designed to educate children about the benefits of renewable energy and the dangers of global warming.
One game – Bouncing Billy – involves navigating him from the sea bed to the surface while avoiding sharks, jellyfish and submarines.
But Bournemouth University academic Dr Nigel Garland – who has previously claimed the turbines would appear more than one and a half times larger than the Needles when viewed from Barton on Sea – said: “The underlying theme ignores the negative impacts of the windfarm and could be viewed as propaganda.
“If Navitus want to promote the windfarm within the community then they should do so with fair and honest debate rather than this clumsy attempt to ‘educate the kids’.
“As a parent, I would not be happy to see it used in my daughter’s school.”
Bournemouth tourism director Mark Smith, pictured right, said: “I’m not against education but you have to do it properly.
He said the site did not consider “the impact of the windfarm on tourism or the environment”.
“The website is therefore flawed and one-sided; I think it is irresponsible for an international developer who is planning to do something so significant which could cost the area 500 jobs,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Navitus said the webpage is part of a commitment to informing people about their plans and added: “We have identified younger people as a ‘hard to reach’ audience and are committed to do more to ensure that all audiences could access information about the planned wind park.
“It allows children to learn about climate change and energy efficiency on an interactive web page.”