A WIND farm off the Dorset coast would spell “huge” damage to Bournemouth’s environment and its economy, a report for the borough council has claimed.

The damning report will be submitted to the Examining Authority that will consider the Navitus Bay wind farm application.

Bournemouth Borough Council commissioned the study into the likely effects of plans for a maximum of 194 wind turbines up to 200 metres high, 13 miles from the coast of Bournemouth and Poole.

The Local Impact Report says there would be a negative impact on tourism and on the economy.

Noise during the building and operation would annoy residents and drive away visitors, it claims.

It also says construction could put water quality at risk off the town’s Blue Flag beaches and that migrating birds and bats could be at risk.

Bournemouth council held a public meeting on the plans in May.

Council leader Cllr John Beesley said: “Residents who attended our public meeting told us they are opposed to this wind farm, and now the report clearly shows that this proposal is bad for Bournemouth.

“The unequivocal evidence is that it will have a huge negative impact on our tourism economy, our residents and our environment.

“These are compelling reasons for us to object and, I hope, also convincing enough for the Planning Inspectorate to recommend refusal to the Secretary of State.”

He said Navitus’ own figures suggested 32 per cent of the resort’s seven million annual visitors would be put off coming to Bournemouth during the four-and-a-half year construction phase, with a long-term downturn of 14 per cent.

The report found any income from the project would be outweighed by the loss to the local economy.

Cllr Beesley added: “The beauty of the natural environment, and in particular the view from Bournemouth’s cliffs and seafront is the main attraction for visitors to Bournemouth. Any degree of industrialisation on this would have a negative impact on the resort and those looking to Bournemouth as a conference venue or an attractive place to study.”

Stuart Grant, senior project manager at Navitus Bay, said: “We have always said it is misleading and wrong to focus on single statistics taken from our own tourism impact survey – it is impossible to draw robust conclusions about the overall potential impact of the wind park using statistics in isolation.

“During the past five years, we have commissioned independent surveys, investigated other operational sites, and been advised by a variety of independent experts. The overall conclusion of this in-depth work was that the wind park will not have a significant impact on tourism in Dorset, Hampshire or Isle of Wight.

“We stand by this conclusion and remain committed to working with Bournemouth council to ensure the potential economic benefits of the project are realised locally.”