RESEARCH suggests the windfarm proposed for Poole Bay could stop visitors coming to Dorset, tourism chiefs warned.

They told councillors a scheme in Scotland put people off from returning to the area.

The news came at Tuesday’s meeting of Bournemouth’s Environment and Transport panel.

Councillors said they met the heads of tourism for Bournemouth and Poole and trade bodies like the Bournemouth Area Hospitality Association (BAHA).

Cllr Mike Greene said they were told about research carried out by the Scottish tourist board.

“That was talking about a 2.5 per cent drop in tourism,” he said.

“I believe that was the percentage of people who would not go back because of the presence of the windfarm.”

He added: “I have to say, our tourism board and that of Poole, rather pooh-poohed the idea it would be a potential tourist attraction.

“There was only evidence that worked in more industrial areas.”

BAHA chairman Andy Woodland said: “We had a meeting and were quite amazed by the scale of the project.

“Although they are eight miles out to sea we feel that they will be very visible from the hotels on the East Cliff and West Cliff. “It could put people off because it is going to take up nearly 25 per cent of the view of the bay – the bay is our biggest selling point.”

And hotelier Alison Gandolfi from the Ballincourt hotel added: “I don’t think it will have a good effect on the area - it is of concern and not something we really want.”

Eneco plans to build 150 to 240 turbines, around 10 miles from Bournemouth and Poole, and eight miles from Swanage and Christchurch.

The firm is holding ongoing public consultation meetings from the Purbecks to the Isle of Wight.

But the panel was told they were not proving enough information when it could be seen as negative.

Cllr Greene said: “They have been far less willing to engage, for example, on images of the relative heights of the turbines.”

He said the turbines would appear higher than the Isle of Wight.

Angela Pooley, from East Dorset Friends of the Earth, said: “Eneco have been very, very open with us.

“There’s quite a lot of negativity towards windfarms but there’s quite a lot of evidence to say it can also be seen as an attraction.”

The councillors investigating the wind farm are in a Task and Finish Group.

They have a meeting in February with Bournemouth’s MPs and MEP Giles Chichester.