PURBECK planning chiefs have refused to back the Navitus Bay offshore wind farm, arguing it will cause “significant adverse harm” to the landscape and could damage the area’s tourist economy.

The planning inquiry into the controversial offshore plant, that could see up to 194 turbines erected nine miles from the Swanage coast, is scheduled to begin mid-October.

As part of this inquiry, authorities have been asked to submit local impact reports, to be considered during the five-month process.

Purbeck District Council’s (PDC) planning board convened on Wednesday to seek approval for its report – which concluded that the authority would be officially objecting to the development.

The Navitus Bay wind farm has split opinion locally, with environmental groups such as East Dorset Friends of the Earth arguing for the green energy scheme, while others – including Swanage’s Challenge Navitus pressure group - voicing serious concerns.

PDC’s local impact report concluded: “The sustainability benefits of the development are acknowledged and supported by the council.

“However, it is considered that they are outweighed by the potential adverse impacts of such a large scale proposal in such close proximity to the district.

“The adverse social and environmental impacts of the development have not been minimised to an acceptable level, and the development would result in significant adverse harm to the Purbeck Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty landscape and the significance and setting of the heritage assets of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and Durlston Castle and Park.”

The report went on to say the council had serious concerns about the wind farm’s potential impact on local tourist economies.

Meanwhile, with the inquiry set to start at Bournemouth International Centre on October 14, Mike Unsworth, Navitus Bay project director, said: “We are confident that we have made a strong and comprehensive case for Navitus Bay and the benefits it can bring to both the region and the UK.”