TV nature show stars Kate Humble and Chris Packham are among those who have signed a letter condemning plans to put an oil rig in Poole Bay.

Also putting their names to the letter by local resident Stuart Lane are world-renowned conservationist and Dorset resident Dame Jane Goodall and RSPB president and TV presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff.

Oil exploration firm Corallian is seeking permission to drill an appraisal well less than 10 miles off the Dorset coast near Bournemouth beach. The rig would be in place for some 40 days between mid-April and June, and September and December, so as to avoid the summer season.

The oil would be extracted horizontally from Wytch Farm in Poole Harbour.

Mr Lane said he had penned the letter to raise local concern about the danger of an oil spill and its potential effects on the marine environment and the area's tourism.

The letter reads: "Our main concern is the devastating implications should there be a serious accident.

"The consequences of a major oil spill at this location pose an existential threat to the local economy and natural environment.

"As you may be aware, Bournemouth, Poole and the wider coastal area is heavily reliant on tourism and in turn the natural beauty and rich natural resources of this idyllic coastal region."

While acknowledging that Dorset is "no stranger to oil and gas exploration", Mr Lane's letter states that Wytch Farm, the largest onshore oil field in Western Europe, "pioneered extended reach drilling precisely to avoid the additional risks offshore drilling would pose".

Referring to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the letter says: "When fishing grounds are damaged, tourist destinations tainted, businesses and livelihoods lost and ecosystems destroyed, if BP cant rectify this kind of situation, what hope would a pop-up company like Corallian have?"

Also signing the letter are Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope, Bournemouth councillor Simon Bull and Dorset councillor Clare Sutton, and MEPs Molly Scott Cato and Clare Moody.

And organisations including: Birds of Poole Harbour, Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Bournemouth National Science Society, Bournemouth and Poole Greenpeace, Bournemouth 2026 Trust, Darwin Ecology, East Dorset Friends of The Earth, Fossil Free Dorset, The Purbeck Society and The Seahorse Trust.

Last month the US Government announced that it will not allow drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Florida after urging from the state’s governor.

Mr Lane said he hoped a similar ban could be applied for the Dorset coastline.

"This will also help reassure local business and future investors that Bournemouth, Poole, the Isle of Wight and Purbeck are safe to invest in and will never be under any threat from offshore drilling."