By Maxwell Kusi-Obodum, Senior reporter | Daily Echo | 22nd June 2013 | www.dailyecho.co.uk
He is the seafaring mascot inviting children on an environmental journey exploring the impacts of climate change.
But the brightly coloured barnacle has whipped up a storm among campaigners and politicians weighing up the benefits of a controversial offshore wind park off the Hampshire and Dorset coast.
Cartoon character Billy was created by developers Navitus Bay Development Ltd – a joint venture between Eneco and EDF – who have submitted a planning application for a £3 billion wind park in the Solent 12 miles from Bournemouth.
If accepted, the site could include up to 218 turbines up to 650ft high generating power for up to 790,000 homes a year – nine times the amount of properties in Bournemouth and 13 times more than the Isle of Wight.
Billy stars in the new KidZone section of their website designed to educate children about the benefits of renewable energy and the dangers of global warming.
One game – Bouncing Billy – involves navigating him from the sea bed to the surface while avoiding a gauntlet of sharks, jellyfish and submarines.
But Bouremouth University academic Dr Ben Garland – who has previously stressed the turbines would appear more than one and a half times larger than the Needles when viewed from Barton on Sea – has criticised the content as “misleading” for failing to present a balanced account.
He said: “The underlying theme ignores the negative impacts of the windfarmand could be viewed as propaganda.
“If Navitus want to promote the windfarm within the community then they should do so with fair and honest debate rather than this clumsy attempt to ‘educate the kids’.”
“As a parent, I would not be happy to see it used in my daughter’s school.”
John Hutchins, Barton ward councillor for New Milton Town Council, added: “It’s a bit underhand – children have their views but they can be vulnerable in this sort of thing.”
But he stressed he was undecided about whether to support the project as a whole.
But fellow Barton councillor Goff Beck said it is crucial young people are educated about green energy and added: “Young people have got to understand it as they are going to be affected by our decisions.”
A spokeswoman for Navitus said the webpage is part of a commitment to informing people about their plans and added: “We have identified younger people as a ‘hard to reach’ audience and are committed to do more to ensure that all audiences could access information about the planned wind park.
“It allows children to learn about climate change and energy efficiency on an interactive web page.”
She added that the company also runs free workshops for school children in partnership with education charity CREATE.
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/06/22/cartoon-character-stirs-up-wind-farm-storm/