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Warning over planned Dorset wind farm

Wind farm developer Eneco has been warned to produce the facts about its turbine proposals – or risk having its plans scuppered.

Frustrations bubbled over at a heated meeting, at which Eneco was accused of treating local residents “like children”.

And it ended with a stark threat from Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who said he would ask the Secretary of State to intervene if Eneco did not “up their game”.

Local MPs, councillors and tourism representatives have long complained about a lack of meaningful information from Eneco, which wants to build the Navitus Bay wind farm on a 76-square mile site off the Swanage coast.

Eneco has not yet said how many turbines there will be – although Mr Burns said the meeting heard it could be as many as 333 – how high they will be or where they will be located. It has also not produced any images showing the impact from the coast.

Mr Burns said: “How can they tell us how much power the turbines will generate but not how many there will be and what size they will be?

“I told them trust had broken down between them and us and unless that is transformed, I will do everything I can to get the Secretary of State to stop this.”

Local councillors and MPs are only consultees on the wind farm project, as the seabed is owned by the Crown Estate. The Secretary of State is the only person who could scupper Eneco’s plans.

Bournemouth council leader Cllr John Beesley stressed they were open-minded on the scheme but said dealing with Eneco was “immensely frustrating”.

“They tell us no decisions have been made, well quite frankly I don’t believe that and I don’t think anybody else in the room believed it either,” he said.

“I told them some months ago they were treating local people, businesses and the public sector with contempt, treating us with extreme naivety, treating us as though we were children.”

And Mike Francis, of the Bournemouth Tourism Management Board, said: “Basically all they have done is treated us like idiots. We’ve been patient for a year listening to the various speeches they have made but we’re still none the wiser.”

In a statement, Eneco said: “Members of the Navitus Bay Development Ltd team met with Conor Burns MP and other local elected officials and civic representatives as part of an ongoing and extensive programme of consultation.

“Forthright views were expressed at the meeting that reflects the fact that this is a very important and highly complex proposal and therefore we welcome them.

“In line with this the Navitus Bay team committed to make the consultation process as open and transparent as possible, which would include addressing the specific concerns raised at the meeting.

“A further round of public consultation is scheduled for November and by that stage many of the technical issues, concerns and options raised during previous rounds will have been addressed so that the community can gain a comprehensive, fair and accurate impression of what is being proposed.

“This response will include detailed visualisations and initial findings from the environmental impact assessment, digital imagery and a comprehensive review of the economic implications.”