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Early setback for Navitus Wind Farm as councillors object to weather tower needed to assess wind speeds

Civic leaders in Bournemouth have objected to plans for a meteorological mast in Poole Bay amid fears that the 100-metre-high structure could take its toll on tourism.

In preparation for the Navitus Bay wind park project, Eneco has applied to the Marine Management Organisation for permission for a yellow platform and lattice tower to assess wind speeds and wind directions.

But despite being recommended to give their approval for the temporary mast, about eight miles out to sea, Bournemouth’s planning board opposed it.

Eneco’s project developer Dan Bates told the board that the mast would be in the bay for five years, adding: “The only impact would be from the visual perspective. We have taken into account navigational safety and work will start in July.”

Planning officer Steve Davies recommended that the council accepted the temporary mast between Old Harry Rocks and The Needles.

He said: “I consider that the proposed mast will be clearly noticeable because of its size. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; it will be useful to have a marker to help us assess the full impact of the wind farm.”

Purbeck council has objected to the temporary mast.

Tourism director Mark Smith said: “The views in the bay remain our main attraction; anything built there concerns us. Why is it necessary to have it in that particularly location?”

Cllr Mike Greene said he wasn’t convinced by the site while Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts said: “It’s far too near our precious Jurassic heritage coast.”

Cllr Beryl Baxter warned: “It will have an impact on the horizon” while board chairman Cllr David Kelsey said: “I think it would be giving the wrong impression to the public if we accept this.”

He proposed a move that the board should oppose the mast on the grounds that it could adversely affect tourism and the environment and there was insufficient information to make a decision.

The move was seconded by Cllr John Wilson and carried after every member, excluding Cllr Greene who abstained, voted in favour.

After the meeting an Eneco spokesperson said: “A meteorological mast is a standard piece of equipment for onshore and offshore wind farms that provides important data to support any application.

“The mast would be a temporary structure. If a marine licence is granted we will seek to minimise any impacts that the mast could have on the local area.”

Find all our coverage on the Navitus Bay wind farm at bournemouthecho.co.uk/navitus