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Demonstrations taking place in Swanage over wind farm

Protestors are due to descend on Swanage seafront this morning to link hands in a demonstration against the wind farm planned for the Dorset coast.

The Navitus Bay wind farm, a joint venture by Dutch firm Eneco and French power company EDF Energy, could include up to 218 turbines.

Wind farm bosses scaled down the number of turbines, from a maximum 333, in December.

But each could still tower up to 200m – almost four times the height of Nelson’s Column. Sunday’s protest, organised by Swanage couple Mike and Charlie Sanderson, is due to be attended by South Dorset MP Richard Drax and Swanage mayor Bill Trite.

Charlie said: “We feel it’s the worst possible location imaginable. We cannot understand why the Crown Estate has offered this site to Dutch company Eneco and French company EDF.

“It will be bigger, taller, than the Gherkin in this beautiful setting.”

She said the coastline would be “absolutely ruined”.

It has been put together independently of main opposition group, Challenge Navitus.

Campaigners meet at the Mowlem Theatre at 10am, with the protest taking place an hour later.

Pro-green energy groups are also expected to gather on Swanage seafront to show their support for “the principle of developing a wind power scheme off the Dorset coast”.

Pro-wind demonstrator Graham Horn, from Swanage, said: “Dorset needs to do its bit with its contribution to the energy crisis that’s coming up.”

As well as cutting back turbine numbers, Navitus Bay has also announced the proposed site will be further out to sea.

If permitted, the park will be 12 miles from Bournemouth rather than 10, and 9.1 miles from Swanage rather than eight.

Opponents fear the offshore plant will jeopardise tourism, harm marine wildlife and hamper shipping.

But supporters, including East Dorset Friends of the Earth, say that many claims against it have been “alarmist”.

Ahead of the demonstrations planned for today, Navitus Bay said in a statement: “It is important to recognise and respect the views of those demonstrating their support for or opposition to the proposals for the wind park.

“Navitus Bay is fully committed to working with and listening to the local community. That is why we would like to encourage as many local people as possible to get involved in the third round of consultation and attend the exhibitions which are taking place at a number of locations, from the Isle of Wight to Swanage starting from February 1.

“These exhibitions will have all the details necessary for residents to form their own views on what is being proposed and allow us to hear what people have to say directly, so that we can take their comments and ideas into account. The decision to move the development further out to sea and to reduce its overall size was a direct result of exactly this form of consultation.”

We will be updating this story live from Swanage this morning. Check back here for pictures, video and comments.

Navitus Bay has also announced its latest round of consultation.