THE four Dorset resorts of Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Purbeck yesterday lodged a claim for £975million in compensation if the controversial Navitus Bay wind farm goes ahead.

Mark Smith, Bournemouth’s director of tourism, told a hearing that tourism was worth just over a billion pounds to the region every year and supported 24,617 jobs.

He said that they remained completely opposed to the wind farm but wanted to ensure that, if it were approved, Dorset resorts and businesses were protected from “financial devastation”.

He said that a total of £975million over 30 years would help them to invest in new events and marketing to try and attract new visitors.

This represents £462m for Bournemouth, £216m for Purbeck, £204m for Poole and £93m for Christchurch.

“The developer has to understand that they can’t expect local tourism businesses to subsidise their commercial operation,” he said.

“Why should they suffer when they’re going to be making a profit out of this?”

“This is a discussion the developer doesn’t want to have. They have been saying there’s not going to be any tourism impact but that’s not what their own figures say.”

He said they had considered an option of spending the compensation on a major new visitor attraction but said: “It would need to be twice the size of the Eden project to get the numbers we need.”

Research carried out by Navitus Bay Development Ltd indicated that up to a third of visitors would be deterred from visiting the area during the five years in which the wind farm is constructed.

Once the wind farm has been built, their research showed that there would be a 14 per cent reduction in visits.

The Planning Inspectorate’s examination of the scheme will continue today and tomorrow, if needed. The hearings are being held at the Wessex Hotel.