Campaigners for and against the controversial wind farm planned for the Dorset coast will get the chance to make their case in front of a planning inquiry next month.
The formal process to determine whether the plans, which would see as many as 194 wind turbines as high as 200 metres located 12 miles from Christchurch, 13 from Bournemouth and Poole and nine from Swanage, gets underway in earnest on Tuesday, October 14.
That date will see the BIC host an open floor meeting, where parties on both sides of the debate will get the chance to speak.
Doors open at 9am for the 10am hearing in the Tregonwell Hall.
The plans from Navitus Bay Development Ltd have already created a huge stir, with two main opposition groups created, Poole and Christchurch Bays Association and Challenge Navitus.
Alongside that, Bournemouth Borough Council has voiced major concerns over the impact on tourism, while MPs Conor Burns and Tobias Ellwood have also spoken in opposition. But the project has its supporters as well, notably East Dorset Friends of the Earth.
David Lloyd, of Challenge Navitus, said: “We’re relieved that the examination has begun.
“The critical issues for this area can now be fully explored in what promises to be a rigorous exercise.”
Angela Pooley, from East Dorset Friends of the Earth, said the organisation was “concerned about the degree of balance in some of the statements by the local councils”.
She added: “We suggest that councils and MPs study the latest report published earlier this week by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate that calls on governments and politicians to ‘examine the relationship between core economic goals, such as growth, investment, employment, poverty reduction and income distribution, and policies towards climate risk and mitigation’.”
Mike Unsworth, Navitus Bay Project Director, said the application would now be subject to a “thorough and independent examination by the Planning Inspectorate”.
He added: “We are confident that we have made a strong and comprehensive case for Navitus Bay and the benefits it can bring to both the region and the UK. We will continue to work with local residents, and statutory and non-statutory consultees during the examination process.”
Navitus Bay: The timetable
• Tuesday, October 14 – open floor hearing.
• Friday, October 24 – details of issue-specific hearings and open floor hearing on Isle of Wight to be confirmed.
• Tuesday, November 18, to Thursday, November 20 – issue-specific hearings, including visual impact, heritage, coastal processes and the biological environment.
• Tuesday, November 25, to Thursday, November 27 – issue-specific hearings, including fishing, noise and health, water and air quality, navigational safety, transport, drainage and water supply.
• Tuesday, December 2 – site visit on Isle of Wight and open floor hearing on island.
• Wednesday, December 3 and Thursday, December 4 – wind farm site visits.
• Wednesday, January 31, 2015 – hearings on development consent order and marine licence.
• Thursday, January 22 – reserved date for compulsory acquisition hearing.
• Wednesday, March 11 – examining authority completes examination.
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