COUNCIL chiefs have ruled out a wind farm in the conurbation after announcing plans for a £20 million fund dedicated to tackling climate change.

The Conservative BCP Council administration announced its Green Futures Fund as part of its 2022/23 budget proposals.

Discussing the budget plans in a live online broadcast, council leader Drew Mellor dismissed the idea of considering a wind farm in the region again.

Green Party councillor Simon Bull told the Daily Echo the local authority should not “close the door on anything without proper investigation”.

The controversial Navitus Bay offshore wind farm project was rejected by the government seven years ago following heated campaigning and opposition.

Responding to a resident’s question on revisiting wind farms, Cllr Mellor said: “There is no plan at all around wind farms that is on our table. It is certainly not something we are looking at.

“We don’t feel we need to in the first instance.

"There are a myriad of other ways we can spend money and there is a significant number of solar farms and opportunities we are looking at but there are other investments as well.”

Cllr Mellor said the £20m pot follows on from the local authority investing in dedicated staff to work on climate change issues.

“We want to make this a really community-led piece of work,” he said.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Drew MellorCllr Drew Mellor

“We want ideas and suggestions from the community. It is a £20m fund at our discretion to invest in. It is capital effectively, so stuff you can can kick, you can touch and you can see, rather than people time but it is £20m available.”

Councillor Bull said “forceful measures and real action” was needed to tackle climate change.

He said the £20m fund was split into £4m per year over the next five years.

While he welcomed the money, he said it need to be spent on the right things.

The Winton East ward councillor said this included finding alternative ways to warming homes, providing clean, green, affordable and accessible public transport and reducing the number of motor vehicles on the roads.

Discussing wind farms, Cllr Bull said: “Just to dismiss something is not what I would like to see. I would like to see everything explored.

“We are literally talking about the future of the planet.”

He also said the area could become a “prime eco tourism destination” and added that work needed to done on how people access the town centres.

Councillor Philip Broadhead, BCP Council deputy leader, said he was not aware of any other local authority committing as much money to tackling climate change.

He said the fund would be used to look at investments “that are actually going to make a difference”.

“There is a bit of a tendency in the climate agenda to go for token or more ideologically driven solutions,” said Cllr Broadhead.

“What we are really looking for are things that we can invest in that are going to really change the situation on the ground, that are going to cut carbon levels, that are going to make a real difference to climate change, so £20m is quite a lot of money to be able to go into that.”

He invited residents to contact the council with their ideas to help protect the climate in the long term.

However, Angela Pooley, of East Dorset Friends of the Earth, an environmental campaign group, said BCP Council had to step up its game on climate issues.

In July 2019, BCP Council pledged as an organisation to be carbon neutral by 2030, with the whole of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole hitting this target by 2050.

Following this commitment, the local authority released a raft of actions it would take to tackle the issue.

Ms Pooley told the Daily Echo: “It is great they are going to have the money to spend but they need to adhere to the pledges they have already made.

“At the moment that isn’t happening.

“They are doing quite a lot on improving cycle infrastructure but they need to challenge the traffic issues and look at where they are going to build houses.”