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Bournemouth MP calls for Navitus Bay to ‘withdraw and rethink’ wind farm plans

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns has written to the firm behind the proposed wind farm off the Dorset coast calling for it to ‘withdraw and rethink’ its plans.

Mr Burns said his ‘prime objective is to protect the interests of Bournemouth, my constituents who live and work in Bournemouth West and the visitors to the town on whom our vital tourism economy relies’.

He said he was ‘alarmed’ by Navitus Bay Development Limited’s (NBDL) own findings that indicated one third of summer visitors would not return during the proposed wind farm’s construction and 14 per cent would never return.

“Bournemouth cannot afford to lose 14 per cent of its summer visitors and a drop of 30 per cent during the construction period would be catastrophic for businesses and employment in the town,” he wrote in the letter to project director Mike Unsworth.

Mr Burns said that, as the final phase of consultation comes to a close, there were still no details of noise assessment, night-time visual impact, climate issues and other outstanding concerns regarding visuals.

He criticised NBDL for not confirming the exact number and height of turbines, which would sit 12 miles off Bournemouth – the firm has said that will depend on technology at the time construction starts, up to a maximum of 218 turbines as high as 200m.

“I do not believe that it is possible to assess the visual impact until these details are revealed and therefore I have no confidence that the visuals that have been produced are accurate,” wrote Mr Burns.

In conclusion, he added: “I think it fundamentally wrong that my constituents have not been able to judge the proposals against comprehensive, accurate and balanced information and that NBDL appears to have taken so little account of local opinion expressed in earlier rounds of the consultation.”

Navitus boss fights their corner

“While we welcome Mr Burns’ feedback, I strongly defend Navitus Bay’s track record of meaningful public consultation.

“We have, and continue to follow the government’s consultation guidance and we are completely confident that all the information provided to the public is robust and prepared to the highest standard by leading independent experts.

“We have also gone above and beyond our statutory responsibilities to ensure local authorities and other stakeholders are fully informed about our plans. Our studies into potential impacts of the wind park have been undertaken by independent experts who have used appropriate, robust methodologies. These studies were undertaken over three years, and have been used to produce the Preliminary Environmental Information (PEI3), a document of over 1,000 pages. This, we believe, is comprehensive in the information it provides, contrary to what Mr Burns suggests.

“It is also a concern that Mr Burns does not have confidence in our visuals. As a responsible developer, we have always adhered to industry best practice, and will continue to do so. Indeed, in line with best practice, our visuals are based on the realistic worst case scenario.”