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Record Navitus Bay wind farm comments ‘unsurprising’

The firm behind a proposed wind farm off the Jurassic Coast has said it is ‘unsurprised’ by the record number of comments the plan received.

Plans for the Navitus Bay development received almost 2,700 interested representations.

The Planning Inspectorate said it was the highest number for any proposed offshore wind farm it had handled.

Most were objections, which project director Mike Unsworth said was “commonplace” in the planning process.

‘Totally wrong place’

Poole and Christchurch Bays’ Association said developers “can’t ignore the response”.

“Our analysis shows that 90% of those who registered are opposed to this giant, inshore industrial project for a variety of valid reasons,” said Roy Pointer, chair of the association.

He also described the proposed location for the development, off the Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight coasts, as “totally the wrong place”.

Objections include concerns about visual intrusion and potential damage to the region’s tourist industry. Comments in favour of the development include the need for greener energy.

Mr Unsworth said the team carried out an “extensive public consultation process” where it met with more than 5,000 residents who had “expressed a variety of views”.

“In light of the work we undertook, we are unsurprised to learn that a record number of people have registered with the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) as interested parties,” he said.

“In the planning process, it is commonplace for those who object to the scheme to register their views, while those who are neutral or supportive often don’t feel the need to comment further, so it is not unexpected that more people who registered with PINS oppose the scheme than support it.”

He added independent polls for Navitus Bay “indicate majority support” for the project and “provide a more accurate barometer for how local residents feel about the wind park”.

A preliminary meeting about the proposed development is due to be announced shortly by the Planning Inspectorate.

At the meeting, which will be open to the interested parties and the applicant, a panel of inspectors will set out what will be examined.