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Consultation over Navitus Bay wind farm extended until next year after flood of responses

The firm behind the wind farm proposed for the sea off the Dorset coast has extended its consultation period after feelings ran high.

Navitus Bay Development Limited, part of Eneco, which is behind the farm, has rescheduled the third round of public consultation to last until February 2013.

It said the high attendances from locals during the second phase had meant many ideas had been put forward.

Now it says it will give more time over to exploring the objections and ideas raised over the 76-square-mile project.

Mike Unsworth, project director of Navitus Bay, said: “It has always been our intention that community consultation has a real bearing on our proposals and this small delay demonstrates this commitment.

“By rescheduling the next stage of consultation, we will be able to dedicate the additional time and resources necessary to fully consider the feedback we have received and identify how we can respond positively given the engineering and environmental constraints of this complex project.

“The extra time will also enable us to produce additional new photo montages showing how the wind park could look from various points along the coast, a 3D fly-through visualisation of the site and onshore cable route, as well as extra surveys of businesses along the coast.”

The farm would stretch between Purbeck and the Isle of Wight and that could contain up to 300 wind turbines, each towering up to 210 metres high.

The proposals sparked a mixed response locally, with some welcoming the chance to harness green energy, while others feeling it could damage the Jurassic Coast’s stunning views. Others have questioned how much power it will produce.

David Lloyd, of Challenge Navitus, a group against the wind farm, said: “It shows how much Eneco has underestimated the strength and breadth of public opinion to the wind farm because, as they’ve admitted, they obviously need a lot more time to answer the concerns and issues people have raised.

“No matter how much time and effort they spend on trying to answer people’s concerns, the fact remains that this is a wholly inapproprivate development in such a beautiful area.”

He said it would be too big, too close to the coast and a danger to shipping.

“We would urge people to attend the next round of public consultation in February in record numbers and register their concerns with the company and the statutory consultees, like the county council,” he added.