THE £3.5 billion Navitus Bay wind farm will have fewer, higher turbines, it has been announced.

Isle of Wight company MHI Vestas Offshore Wind (MHI Vestas) has been named by Navitus Bay Development Ltd as its preferred turbine supplier.

Of the three options for turbines, Navitus Bay Development Ltd has picked the most powerful, meaning the size of the proposed farm would be 121 turbines instead of the possible 194 turbines that would have been needed at a smaller size.

The MHI Vesta option is the tallest of the three, however, at 200m tall.

Mike Unsworth, project director of Navitus Bay, said: "We are determined to maximise the economic benefits of the project across the south coast so it is fantastic news that the turbine blades for the MHI turbine will be manufactured on the Isle of Wight."

NBDL - a partnership between French energy giant EDF and Dutch firm Eneco - had said there could be as many as 194 turbines.

After four rounds of public consultation, and an alternative 'mitigation option' for a offshore plant with just 105 turbines, a planning enquiry was held in Bournemouth. This lengthy enquiry ended in March.

However, Navitus say that having chosen MHI Vesta's turbines, fewer would be needed to meet projected energy output.

The maximum turbines would therefore fall from 194 to 121 for the 970MW project, and reduce from 105 to 78 for the smaller 630MW option, depending on which option - if any - is agreed by the recently-appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd.

While supporters have hailed the need for renewable energy, opponents have blasted the scheme over a range of issues, including visual impact, environmental effects and the potential negative impact on Dorset's tourism economies.

Bournemouth Borough Council and organisations such as the Bournemouth Tourism Management Board have lambasted the plans, saying they could cost the industry £100 million a year.

Meanwhile, Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner described yesterday's MHI Vestas announcement as "great news for our island economy."

The Planning Inspectorate should make a recommendation to the Secretary by the end of June, before Mrs Rudd makes the final decision on or before September 11 this year.

MHI Vestas will now start negotiations to select a potential operation and maintenance base, from a short-list of Poole, Portland and Yarmouth.