THE Dorset coast was officially confirmed as one of nine new offshore wind farm zones on Friday.

Dutch energy company Eneco was awarded the licence for the West of Wight zone and will now be able to apply for the necessary planning consents.

The £175 million wind farm could potentially yield 0.9 gigawatts of power but it’s hoped that turbines in all nine zones could generate a total of 32 gigawatts of energy – a quarter of the UK’s needs.

Angela Pooley, co-ordinator of East Dorset Friends of the Earth, said it was great news for the environment.

“We’ve got to look at sustainable alternatives and this is just a really good step in that direction,” she said.

“There’s been talk about how it will affect the view but realistically, we have to look at alternatives. It’s great that this has happened and I hope others now get permission.”

Guy Madgwick, managing director of Eneco’s UK business, said the wind farm would have big benefits for the local economy.

“As a Dorchester boy I’m delighted that this will bring high quality, professional jobs to the area,” he said.

“The important thing for Dorset is that this is here for 25 years, if not longer, so the effects will be ongoing. It will stimulate an industry but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Construction is due to start in 2016 but before that Eneco will set up a local base and consult with residents across Dorset and Hampshire.

“We want to work with the local community,” he said.

“The project will not work without the community’s support.”

And Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin, leader of Bournemouth council, said councillors had previously expressed their support for the plans.

“In terms of renewable energy sources, offshore wind farms are the right way to go – they are the future,” he said.

“We much preferred offshore wind farms to onshore wind farms.

“And in the current circumstances, any additional quality jobs are welcome.”