Wind farm developer Eneco has been criticised for failing to consult tourism bosses over plans to site turbines in Poole Bay.
The proposed Navitus Bay wind park, which would see turbines of around 311 feet tall situated between 10 and 17 miles out to sea, would have a major impact on Bournemouth and Poole’s tourism industry.
Yet local tourism representatives, giving evidence at a Bournemouth council task and finish group, said it had been near impossible to get information from Eneco.
Mike Francis, who serves on both Bournemouth and Poole’s tourism management boards, said: “I’m a little bit disturbed really. We are at this stage and yet we don’t know much about the process and we’ve not been consulted. Before Eneco do very much more they should be consulting with the two tourist boards who are dealing with the most important asset Bournemouth has – the beach.”
Bournemouth Cllr Mike Greene told tourism representatives Eneco was due to take part in a discussion about the wind park at Bournemouth Natural Sciences Society but had pulled out when told there would be other speakers. “They have been very clear that they are only interested in speaking to the people that they have to speak to,” he said.
He informed them that provisional information from Eneco indicated the wind farm would be about the same distance out to sea as the Needles and the turbines would appear taller than the Isle of Wight from Bournemouth beach.
Bournemouth’s director of tourism Mark Smith said: “I can’t give a view now about the impact the scheme might make because we have not been able to get the information that we need to make that assessment.”
But he pointed to research carried out in Scotland which found there was a “monetary value” attached to a prime landscape.
And Bruce Grant-Braham, chair of Poole Tourism Partnership, said: “I think as politicians you will have the worst of this. I think there will be a resistance to change from the local population. I do think certainly in Poole we do sell our landscape, we have to tread on eggshells here.”
But Helen Cassini, consents manager for the wind park, said: “Eneco has held initial conversations with tourism officers from the relevant local authorities and undertaken a number of voluntary meetings with Bournemouth Borough Council since the award of the development rights in 2010.
“We will continue to provide the council and other key stakeholders with information relating to all aspects of the project during the statutory consultation period, which began at the end of 2011, and more formally upon completion of the environmental impact assessment from this summer onwards.”
She added that anyone seeking more information could also attend the forthcoming public exhibitions.