SOUTH West MEP Ashley Fox visited Bournemouth to join the fight against the wind farm and urged residents to lobby the Government before it was too late.

Mr Fox, the Conservative European leader, met with campaigners, tourism officials and councillors opposed to the Navitus Bay wind farm.

His visit came as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd weighs up representations for and against the controversial project and decides whether or not to grant it permission.

He said: "I'm strongly opposed to it because I think it's a good way to waste a lot of taxpayers' money and in the process destroy Bournemouth's unique coastline."

When asked whether there was still time to influence the decision, he added: "I hope we can. Secretary of State Amber Rudd is a new minister and I think she will look at the matter afresh. That's why it's important that Bournemouth and the rest of Dorset makes its voice heard, particularly the tourism industry that is so important to the whole of Dorset."

And Roy Pointer, representing residents' associations across Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, said: "We have asked all our resident members to write to the secretary of state and also to the Prime Minister to urge them to do all they can to stop this horrendous scheme taking place."

But not everybody agrees. Mr Fox was yesterday accused of "opportunist nimbyism" by fellow South West MEP Clare Moody. The Labour MEP said: "It’s yet further evidence of Tory politicians more interested in appeasing their right-flank than being honest with the public and confronting the big issues facing our region, the country and the world."

And a new online petition at 38degrees urging Ms Rudd to approve the wind farm plans has been signed by 813 people.

The petition, started by Mark Chivers, states: "I am very concerned however that a small group of local activists are using information that has little to no scientific backing to discredit this development and are creating fears about the impact on tourism and jobs in the area."