A LEADING figure in Bournemouth’s tourism industry has demanded £15million a year in compensation from the developers of the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm.

Des Simmons, chairs Bournemouth Tourist Management Board and runs property agency Bournecoast, says the money would fund a marketing campaign to win back tourists put off by the wind project.

The board says Navitus Bay’s own data shows £100m would be lost to the area – but the company insists tourism will not be “significantly impacted”.

Mr Simmons said of the scheme: “It wants to turn England’s beautiful, unspoilt Poole Bay into an industrial landscape and destroy Bournemouth’s vital tourism business to boot.

“To rub salt into the wound they are not even prepared to discuss compensation with the tourism businesses around Poole Bay for the massive loss in income that Navitus Bay’s own research is predicting.

“They are compensating fishermen as well as boat and dive charter companies – why not other tourism businesses?”

Bournemouth Tourism Management Board and Bournecoast claim 10 jobs would be lost in the area for every one created by the windfarm.

They say 2,500 jobs will be lost across all sectors in Bournemouth during the five-year construction period.

Mike Unsworth, project director for the Navitus Bay Project, said in a statement: “Navitus Bay fully recognises the importance of the local tourism industry, and we have taken active steps to safeguard it.

“Independent studies have found that tourism in Bournemouth, and anywhere across the coast, will not be significantly impacted by Navitus Bay.

“This assessment is unsurprising given there is currently over 1000 wind turbines in UK waters with the majority significantly closer to tourism resorts than Navitus Bay would be and no significant impacts have been observed.

“We recognise that offshore wind is new to the South Coast and there are understandable perceptions and uncertainties with something new.

“For this reason, we have put in place a £15m tourism fund to mitigate any minor impact relating to such perceptions.

“Navitus Bay could add significant economic benefit to the region of up to £1.6billion, and will create at least 1,700 jobs.

“This will have a positive impact on the local community across the south coast.”