AN oil drilling operation proposed for Poole Bay would be an unacceptable risk to the area, says the leader of Bournemouth council.

In a public letter sent to the Echo, Cllr John Beesley states that the borough is opposing plans by Corallian Energy to drill within sight of Bournemouth beach over the winter.

He calls on MPs to "present a united front, just as we did with the proposals for the Navitus Wind Farm".

Cllr Beesley told the Echo halting the drilling would not be easy. The proposal is currently being considered by the Energy Secretary.

"It is very difficult to stop exploratory work around energy issues in this country," Cllr Beesley said.

"We have some significant concerns if we can't prevent this happening.

"The environment of the bay is sacrosanct to people who live and visit here, our Blue Flag beaches are the envy of most resorts.

"The company admits if there were an oil spill it would have an almost immediate impact."

Cllr Beesley said Corallian's environmental impact assessment – a key part of the approval process – was "significantly lacking" and did not provide mitigation for specific risks.

"For example, we are wholly against materials being left on the sea bed to disperse over time," he said.

"We want to see proper collection of materials and a third party independent assessment of how that is to be gone about."

In his letter Cllr Beesley says the economic benefits of an oil well "are acknowledged", however "in the event of an accident, the potential impact for the environment and tourism economy is very high and potentially catastrophic".

He says all mitigation measures proposed by the council "must be implemented" if the scheme is granted, and calls for further discussions between the the council and oil industry regulators.

He told the Echo: "I hope that our views will be taken into account.

"We have some experience with exploratory wells from the past.

"With the BP proposal for Hook Sands, we were repeatedly told there was no alternative.

"At the eleventh hour, as they realised the extent of the opposition, BP came up with an alternative."