AN idea to use a helicopter to demonstrate the height of the wind turbines proposed for the Dorset coast has been branded “stupid”.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood requested that Navitus Bay Development Ltd commissioned the helicopter to hover at agreed heights and distances from Bournemouth’s coastline, which the developer has agreed to do.

But the idea, put forward after talks with residents’ groups, has been slammed by Mr Ellwood’s Parliamentary colleague and groups opposed to the wind farm.

Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, said: “I don’t think a single helicopter hovering in the bay is going to convey in any sense an accurate visual representation of what hundreds of high turbines are going to look like.

“One of the reasons I’m convinced it’s a stupid idea is the way that Navitus Bay Development Ltd has jumped on it and agreed to do it, when so far its visuals have been inaccurate and it is afraid to show the public what it will really look like.”

Philip Dewhurst, of Poole and Christchurch Bays Association, which represents 50 residents’ groups and has launched a ‘Save our Seaside’ campaign, said: “To get a true picture of how intrusive Navitus would be, you’d need to imagine not one, but thousands of helicopters – one estimate says 21,000 – to simulate the size of this giant forest of skyscraper-tall mega turbines.

“The UK already has more offshore wind than the rest of Europe put together and day by day the economics become more shaky.”

Bill Hoodless, also from the association, added: “I think the helicopter plan is a genuine idea from Tobias Ellwood to help provide a height indication of a wind turbine.

“Perhaps we should not pre-judge that – it would be useful if by looking at the helicopter we can also visualise all the turbines.”

David Lloyd, of opposition group Challenge Navitus, said it would “mislead rather than inform people”.

“At best it will be a dot on the horizon and it will not indicate the sheer density of the proposed development.”

He urged people to look at the visuals on its website, which he said had been independently verified.

“This is just one negative aspect of the development,” he added.

The helicopter would hover at 100, 150 and 200 metre heights at nine, 12 and 15 miles from the shore.

Formal consultation on the project has now concluded and the firm is gearing up to submit its planning application.

The application is likely to be submitted to the Government in the spring.

Navitus Bay says the final number of turbines cannot yet be decided as technology is rapidly developing.

There could be as many as 218 as high as 200m.

n REACTING to the criticism, Tobias Ellwood said: “I have little faith in the digital images that I’ve been presented with. There is no solution to show how they will look and, absolutely, this is not ideal, but let’s see what it can do.

“The company is willing to do it and it will not cost the taxpayer anything.

“My view is the more information that we have to paint a more realistic picture of what the impact will be, the better it is for us to make an accurate judgement as to what that impact will be.”

Mike Unsworth, project director at Navitus Bay, added that the demonstration would not happen until the spring.

“The demonstration it still yet to be scoped in any detail. In any case, this exercise would not aim to replicate the visual representation of the wind park, but simply give the public a reference point within the proposed development’s offshore site area, which currently does not exist, to understand the distance of the development from the shore and the height of the turbines,” he said.