STAND on the shore at Margate in Kent and you can see, on a clear day, three wind farms.

Seven miles off the coast is the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, which has 100 turbines.

Also visible is the London Array, made up of 175 turbines around 12 miles off the Kent coast, as well as Kentish Flats, which has 30 turbines and, at its closest point to shore, is 5.5 miles from Herne Bay.

All our images from Margate in a gallery

Kentish Flats has been operational since 2005, while the London Array - the largest in the world at the time of construction - came online in 2013 and the Thanet project in 2010.

Despite being surrounded by three wind farms, Thanet seems to have seen nothing like the controversy that is raging in Dorset over the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park, which could see 194 turbines, 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole and nine from Swanage.

Cllr Iris Johnston is the leader of Thanet District Council, which encompasses Margate and also Ramsgate, where the harbour and port is owned and run by the authority.

Mark Seed is director of operational services at the council.

Cllr Johnston told the Daily Echo: “I think it has been very good for us and I've never had anybody complain. We were in opposition (on the council) at the time (that the project was being proposed), but there was cross-party support.

“I don't think we had any negative views at the time. I think in Thanet we were looking at it as a way forward.”

Comparing the Towns

  • Margate population (2011 census): 49,700
  • Bournemouth population (2011 census): 187,500
  • Poole population (2011 census): 154,700
  • Swanage population (2011 census): 9,600

In Dorset, one of the major sources of opposition is from Bournemouth Borough Council, which fears a hit of up to 20 per cent on its tourism economy - worth £500 million a year to the town.

Cllr Johnston said: “Tourism is worth about £230 million a year to us and about 5,000 jobs. From a tourism point of view I don't think that any issues with the wind farm have affected us.

“Some days you don't see them (the turbines) at all and I think most people are accepting that it's a good thing.”

When he was told that Navitus Bay would be 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole, Mr Seed said: “I think to be frank you would really struggle to see it at that sort of distance.

“You need reasonably good atmospheric conditions to be able to see them.”

Cllr Johnston added: “In the early days for me, I wondered about putting things out to sea and affecting the fish, the wildlife and the birds. There were those concerns coming out in the early days, but the view was 'do you want nuclear power or do you want green energy?'.”

There are comparisons in Thanet with the conurbation of Bournemouth and Poole - while Bournemouth fears a negative impact, Poole's harbour could benefit if Navitus Bay chooses to use it as part of construction and maintenance.

Mr Seed said: “You're not getting people to come and look at the wind farm, so I don't think it's changed the tourism offer in any way down here. You can understand Bournemouth's view on it and that there's everything to lose and nothing to gain.

“We were looking to gain in other areas. We have our own port and harbour (in Ramsgate) and it generated jobs during the construction phase and in repair and maintenance.”

DAVID Foley is chief executive of Thanet and East Kent Chamber, as well as being chief executive of Dover District Chamber of Commerce.

He said: “The building phase is the most lucrative for the local population. As far as possible they will involve local companies.

“Of course then you have visitors and visiting engineers using the restaurants, the pubs and the hotels.

“For local businesses of course it's a good thing. The latest (unemployment) rates I looked at, published in October, showed that unemployment had fallen 28 per cent year on year.

“That's not down entirely to the wind farm, but a crucial element in business is confidence and there's no doubt about it, if a major company wants to invest in your area that says a lot.

“They have had a problem from the environmental lobby, the objections of the RSPB have deterred the London Array from expanding any further.

“Our planning system tends to favour a small number of vociferous objectors. Why would anybody object to a wind turbines five or 10 miles out to sea? They're an addition to the landscape, not a disadvantage.

“Boat trips out to see them have in themselves become a tourist attraction.”

A Vattenfall spokesman said: “Vattenfall started building the 100-turbine Thanet Offshore Wind Farm in early 2009 and by mid-2010 it was complete with dozens of local businesses supporting construction.

"As a result of that and ongoing operations, we generally find that people in Thanet recognise the benefits of the wind farm to the local area. These include major site facilities at, and increased use of, the harbour at Ramsgate, an important local economic asset.

"In addition, there are around 40 full-time skilled technicians and administrative staff, all from Kent, who maintain Thanet Offshore Wind Farm and our other project Kentish Flats.”

BUSINESS owners in Margate say the wind turbines have not had an effect on what they do.

The Daily Echo spoke to the owner of a cafe, two hoteliers and a couple that ran a gift shop - all of them on the shore and in view of the wind parks.

Dean Swift owner of the Palm Bay Cafe, which sits on the clifftop looking out to sea, said: “It hasn't really had any impact, good or bad, it doesn't really bother us.

“Some people say it harms the view looking out, but to me it lights up at night and looks quite nice; you don't notice it during the day.

“Twelve miles out is quite a long way, this one is only seven and you can't see it today because it's cloudy.

“When people come to the beach they're not looking at the wind turbines.”

Julie Falade, who has run the Palm Court Hotel for 10 years, said: “People come here to look at it and watch it. Nobody has said they don't like it. Just last week somebody was here saying that they didn't know that we had it and it was lovely.

“A lot of people are going to look at it.

“It never concerned me. If it's going to useful for everybody we have to accept it and we see that it's good and we're living in a changing world.”

Sam Weeks, head receptionist at the Smiths Court Hotel, which also faces the sea, said: “There's not really been an impact. We get guests who sit in the lounge and see the wind farm as something a bit different.

“A lot of people were saying it was going to be an eyesore on the coast, especially here in a big holiday destination, but once it was all done it wasn't a problem.

“They have people working on it and they change every week, so it's quite good for business.”

Keith and Teresa Marsh have lived in Margate for 43 years and run the Sunset Rock Shop - which sells rock, postcards and holidays goods and souvenirs - and faces the sea.

Teresa said: “We have lots of sea and the wind costs nothing. Once they were there, after about two weeks you didn't notice them.

“We have noticed no difference. They do employ people as well. I think the whole thing was quite well thought out and it didn't cause any disruption to us.

“Why would tourists be interested in a wind farm?”

Residents that the Echo spoke to had mixed views on the turbines.

Hilary Welsh, who was born in Margate, said: “I like to look at them. I don't care what they do and don't do. When you see them moving it can be relaxing to watch.”

Her husband Martin added: “There was some opposition, but I think money talked. There was a lot of kudos for it, with local jobs and they said it was good for the economy.

“I'm yet to see any benefit in terms of the cost of electricity, there's nothing tangible yet. It doesn't affect us aesthetically in any way.”

Doug and Liz Leach, have lived in Margate for around eight years and dislike the wind turbines.

Doug said: “England is known for its beautiful countryside and views. It's going to cost much more money to take them away than it did to put them in.”

Liz added: “You sit on the beach and it's all you're looking at - they're hideous.

“What's going to happen in 100 years when they're obsolete? We're surrounded because we have them in three places.”