FORMAL agreements have been finalised that could pave the way for the Port of Poole to land lucrative contracts if the controversial Navitus Bay wind farm becomes a reality.

Navitus Bay Development Ltd has announced it has officially entered into ‘Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)’ with three ports – Poole, Portland and Yarmouth.

Essentially these agreements commit Navitus Bay to drawing up studies with each port, to explore how each of them could best be used in both the construction and operation & maintenance of the wind park.

Navitus Bay, a joint venture between EDF Energy and Dutch energy firm Eneco Wind Ltd, wants to build up to 194 turbines, each towering up to 200 metres high, off the Dorset coast.

Project director Mike Unsworth said: “We first shortlisted Poole, Yarmouth and Portland to host the operation and maintenance base last year, and we are thrilled to be formalising our commitment to working with all three by signing these MOUs.

“Our ultimate aim is to enter into a contract with one, or a combination, of these three ports that says they will accommodate construction and installation activities and host the operation and maintenance base.

“The wind park will have a significant impact on the local economy by creating skilled jobs and opportunities for local businesses to get involved, and Navitus bay remains committed to making sure these positive benefits are realised.”

Earlier this year the company announced it was scaling back its plans, from a maximum of up to 218 turbines, and moving the proposed park further out to sea.

By removing the northernmost ‘top triangle’ of the development, Navitus Bay says the site will now be 13 miles from Bournemouth, rather than 12.

The distance from Poole changes from 12.5 miles to 13, but at Swanage the turbines will remain nine miles from the shore.

Navitus Bay plans to submit its planning application to the Government in the spring, but a decision from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is not likely to come before 2015.

If permission is granted and contracts are awarded, the first turbines could be erected during 2019.

  • BOROUGH of Poole leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson said: “Should the Government give the go-ahead for the Navitus bay scheme, the Port of Poole would clearly want to benefit from the potential investment and creation of skilled jobs.

“Situated in Europe’s largest natural harbour, the port would be ideally placed to offer the base required to run the operations and maintenance for such a scheme.”

POOLE Harbour Commissioners chief executive Jim Stewart said: “The Port of Poole is very pleased to participate in the signing of this MOU with Navitus Bay Development Ltd, which we hope will be the precursor to a firm contract for this important project.

“This MOU forms parts of our strategy for greater diversification in port activities going forward.”