THE wind farm proposed off the coast of Bournemouth and Poole could cost 500 jobs in Dorset’s tourism sector.

Mark Smith, head of tourism for Bournemouth, gave the figure on Friday as councillors took evidence on the effect of the turbines on visitors.

Mr Smith said research in Scotland showed 2-3 per cent of visitors would not return to an area with a wind farm.

He said: “If you are considering an industry which employs in Dorset something like 18,000 people, that is equivalent to more than 500 jobs.”

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Elwood, who was giving evidence to the councillors, said it would be an important and strong argument for the council to make to the government.

Eneco wants to build a wind farm in Poole Bay called Navitus with a projected opening date in 2019.

There would be 180-250 wind turbines about 10 miles from Bournemouth and Poole.

The firm is holding ongoing public consultations for residents along the coast from Swanage to Lymington.