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Yachtsmen say proposed Poole Bay windfarm will be a major hazard

Yacht owners called the Poole Bay windfarm a dangerous hazard during a meeting with the developers.

Around 45 people from several Dorset clubs gave a generally sceptical reception to a presentation from Eneco at Parkstone Yacht Club.

During a brief show of hands, around three quarters of them agreed with the proposal that it was an “unacceptable risk.”

The presentation, held last week, was the third consultation with yacht enthusiasts, following two in Hampshire.

Eneco is bidding to create up to 330 wind turbines in the bay, located only eight miles from Swanage, and 10 miles from Poole and Bournemouth, with completion due in 2019 or 2020.

The biggest concern was over the quality of Eneco’s data, which had shown few yachts using the 76-square-mile area earmarked for development.

People pointed out that very few pleasure yachts were fitted with AIS tracking systems, and also said few would have shown up on the radar survey.

Jonathan Saunders, chairman of Cobbs Quay Berth Holders Association in Hamworthy, said the data was so incomplete as to be “entirely invalid.”

David Cantello, a marine safety consultant employed by Eneco, said: “There will never be perfect data but it’s the best data there is to work with and it’s very useful as a starting point.”

More surveys are planned this summer.

Mr Cantello said the turbines could have yellow paint, warnings lights, and reflective material to prevent accidents.

He acknowledged the turbines were a new hazard and that helicopter rescue teams were “reluctant” to fly into them.

But he added “The Marine and Coastguard Agency’s position is that we provide information so that people can make their own decisions about the risks.”

Mr Cantello also said a survey by the Royal Yacht Association at a smaller wind farm found 80 per cent of respondents actually enjoyed sailing through it.

n Donia Gray, a member of Parkstone Yacht Club, said: “I think it’s disgusting, I really think there are alternative forms of power that would be better.”

Lawrence Crapper, Commodore of Christchurch Sailing Club, said: “We are very much against it – we believe that in poor weather there are going to be accidents.”

Olympic double gold-medallist Rodney Pattisson, a member of Parkstone Yacht Club, said: “It think it’s a hazard.

“For example, we get rolling banks of fog there quite frequently.”

Clive Rowe, a member of Parkstone Yacht Club, said: “I am all for it – everyone has to do their bit to lower carbon emissions.

“You can’t drive here in an eight-mile-to-the-gallon vehicle and complain about the windfarm.”