Bournemouth’s tourism boss says the council would seek a massive £2.5 billion in compensation if the Navitus Bay wind farm goes ahead.
As reported in yesterday’s Daily Echo, Bournemouth Borough Council predicts that the wind farm would damage the town’s economy to the tune of £100 million a year and the loss of 2,000 jobs.
The figure is based on the tourism sector being worth £503 million in 2013 and 20 per cent of people surveyed by developer Navitus Bay Development Ltd saying they would be likely to visit somewhere else during construction.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, Bournemouth’s director of tourism, Mark Smith, said the £2.5bn figure was based on 25 years at £100 million.
He added: “The potential effects for Bournemouth are genuinely scary.
“We mainly sell this resort on its views and scenic beauty. If you change that unique selling point and put the town through a long period of heavyweight construction, it will be devastating.”
Mr Smith said Bournemouth was a national and international asset – and this was not just a local issue.
He also questioned why seascapes did not receive the same protection as areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Navitus 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.
Paul Clarke, chairman of Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association, has backed the council’s stance.
He said: “Many of the our members have been through one of the toughest periods of recession over the past five years, where numbers of overnight visitors fell by nearly 10 per cent – the indicated figure of double that would make a large percentage of hotels uneconomical and certainly stop any investment in the sector for the next five to eight years.
“The job losses would be a consequence of any fall in business.”
But a supporter of the scheme, East Dorset Friends of the Earth, says that a failure to develop a major renewable energy facility in or around Dorset would have major environmental and economic consequences.
They suggested that councillors and MPs may be abandoning their agreed policies for short-term political gains.
Referring to the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Renewable Energy Strategy to 2020, spokesman Dr Martin Price said: “Local councils are officially committed to promoting the expansion of renewable energy in Dorset, because they recognise that it ‘has the potential to bring substantial economic development to the area’ and can make ‘a major contribution’ to reducing the carbon emissions responsible for global warming.
“Solar and wind energy also ‘has a critical role to play in increasing the security of local energy supply’.”
But he said councils and MPs were going against that.
He said there was “no evidence that offshore wind parks are a threat to tourism or to local marine interests – indeed there are strong suggestions that the wind farm could increase tourism”.
Those on all sides of the arguments will get their chance to speak in front of a planning inspector at the open floor hearing at the BIC on Tuesday, 9am for a 10am start.
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