CAMPAIGNERS fighting the wind farm proposed for the Dorset coast have raised fears that it could be the first of three phases.

The planning process for the Navitus Bay development closes on March 11 and the Planning Inspectorate will then make its recommendation to the Secretary of State.

As the deadline looms, Poole and Christchurch Bays Asso- ciation (PCBA), which represents around 50 residents’ groups, says that it fears that the current scheme could be just the tip of the iceberg.

But developer Navitus Bay Development Ltd (NBDL) says it has no plans to build further turbines.

Currently, NBDL has put forward two proposals – its preferred option of up to 194 turbines, a maximum of 200m tall and nine miles from shore at their closest point, and a scaled-down ‘mitigation option’ of 105 turbines, which would be 11 miles away at their closest.

Bill Hoodless, chairman of PCBA, said that it emerged towards the end of the planning hearings in January that the Crown Estate, which leases the sites, had an agreement with NBDL for three areas adjoining each other to the west of the Isle of Wight – ‘X’ being the current plan under consideration, followed by ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ to the south.

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who has been a vocal opponent of the plans, told the Daily Echo: “There are things that are not necessarily new to the process, but are becoming new in the public domain.

Mr Burns said it was still not clear “where it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like and how long it’s going to be there”.

Mike Unsworth, NBDL’s project director, said: “The Crown Estate plans referencing sites labelled ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ were options discussed in 2011, when the project was planned to be built in three phases and reach a maximum of 1200MW.

“Since then, following consultations and an environmental assessment, the project has undergone a number of changes in scale.

“This meant that the application submitted to the Planning Inspectorate outlined a 970MW scheme with a 630MW mitigation option introduced during examination. To clarify, the final boundary for the project agreed with the Crown Estate will match the consented scheme.

“Navitus Bay will have no rights to develop wind turbines outside those areas and will not be looking to do so.”