Dorset residents will be able to see for themselves just how high the wind turbines for the proposed park off the coast will be.
Developer Navitus Bay Development Limited, which is a joint venture between Dutch firm Eneco and energy giant EDF, has agreed to a request from Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood to commission a helicopter to hover at agreed heights and distances from the town’s coastline.
The project has come up against intense opposition in some quarters, with fears over its effects on tourism and its visual and environment impacts topping the list.
Mr Ellwood said: “This one-off event would allow residents and visitors to visualise for themselves whether 100, 150 and 200-metre-high turbines can been seen from nine, 12 and 15 miles away.
“As Bournemouth – and the wider area – is so heavily dependent on tourism, residents and businesses are deeply concerned out the visual impact a wind farm might have on our local economy.
“The company has, to date, produced a number of computerised images of what the proposed new turbines would look like when seen from the beach, but these have not been received with any degree of reliability.
“The date – likely to be on a weekend in March – and full parameters of the exercise have yet to be determined, but it will be well advertised so residents and the media have time take their own pictures and make up their own minds as to what the visual impact might be.”
Formal consultation on the project has now concluded and the firm is gearing up to submit its planning application to the Government in the spring. It is running some informal information sessions this week.
Mike Unsworth, project director at Navitus Bay, said: “We appreciate that there are some remaining concerns about the visual impact of the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park, and as a responsible developer, we’ve always gone the extra mile to address these concerns.
“In order to demonstrate the distance that the development would be from the shore, we are indeed looking into staging a helicopter demonstration. However, this could not happen until spring at the earliest, when the weather conditions are more suitable and safer as a result.”
Exhibitions will take place: Today, 10am to 1pm, Lighthouse, Poole; Tomorrow, 3pm to 6pm, St Edwards Church Hall, Swanage; Thursday, Jan 23, 10am to 1pm, West Moors Library; Thursday, Jan 23, 3pm to 6pm, Menzies Carlton Hotel, East Overcliff, Bournemouth; Friday, Jan 24, 10am to 1pm, New Milton Community Centre; Friday, Jan 24, 3pm to 6pm, Captain’s Club Hotel, Christchurch.
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