THE £3.5 billion Navitus Bay wind farm will have the lowest number of turbines proposed under the scheme but also the tallest, 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.

Responding to the announcement that MHI Vestas has been selected as the preferred turbine blade supplier for Navitus Bay, Councillor John Beesley, Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council said:

“Navitus Bay’s plan to build 121 wind turbines is not news and is not a reduction.  As feared they are now confirming that they will use the tallest turbines available which will have an even greater detrimental impact on the natural environment.

"Whilst we are of course pleased that Navitus Bay’s turbine blade contract on the Isle of Wight will help to support existing local jobs, we are concerned that no new local employment opportunities have been announced.

"Navitus Bay continues to ignore the fact that almost 5,000 jobs will be lost across Dorset if its offshore wind farm is developed.  Changing the core appeal of the tourism offer by industrialising this beautiful coastal setting with vast, highly visible turbines will have an unprecedented and deeply damaging effect on our local economy.

"The evidence shows that six million tourists will avoid Bournemouth while the wind farm is constructed.  The region faces a total economic loss of £6.3 billion if this wind farm goes ahead.  Countless businesses will be undermined and the Jurassic coast risks losing its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. 

"Bournemouth Council remains deeply concerned about the overwhelming and detrimental impact Navitus Bay wind farm will have on the area’s core appeal and local economy.”

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.