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Wind farm worries blowing up a storm in Christchurch

Concerns over proposals to develop a huge new wind farm off local waters are gathering pace in Christchurch.

The Eneco wind farm proposals off the South coast could see between 150 and 240 turbines providing enough energy for between 615,000 and 820,000 homes, say the energy company.

The site is designed to take advantage of Poole and Christchurch Bays to swing the massive wind generators inshore to a mere eight miles off Christchurch Harbour Entrance – roughly the same distance out as the Needles.

But the plans have already caused concern among local MP’s including Bournemouth West Conor Burns, Bournemouth East’s Tobias Ellwood, Poole MP Robert Syms and Christchurch MP Chris Chope.

A recent meeting at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes was attended by Commodore of Christchurch Sailing Club Rick Thompson and Vice-Commodore Lawrence Crapper as well as the commodores from the areas sailing clubs and a representative from Eneco.

Mr Crapper said: “With between 150 and 240 windmills it is going to be a dangerous area for small craft.

“If as I believe all vessels choose to go around the wind farm this will make dangerous pinch points involving commercial shipping, fast cats and small craft going in different directions, more fog, cross tides etc.”

He added: “The consultation period will not start until next year; we must not give up on stopping this unnecessary blot on the horizon.”

Mr Thompson said: “There are so many things they haven’t considered it is untrue. They couldn’t have picked a worst place in the British Isles.”

The Royal Yachting Association, who met with Eneco in May 2010 and explained the importance of the area for recreational and commercial boating, believes the proposed plans are poorly located from a “wider navigational perspective”.

Eneco say they are undertaking ongoing consultation with the RYA as well as consulting with local yachting and sailing clubs along the south coast throughout the formal consultation process.

David Cantello, Marine Safety Consultant on the project said that up until now consultation had been informal but in the next year was due to become more formal.

“We are very sensitive to the issues here. Talks have been held not only with the RYA and RYS but also individual yacht clubs and other boating organisations.”He added that as designs become more final, regulators which include Maritime Coastguard Agency will become involved.