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Tourism and noise impact of Navitus Bay wind farm to be discussed at hearings

Campaigners for and against the controversial Navitus Bay wind farm planned for the Dorset coast are readying themselves for the next stage of the process.

The project, which would see as many as 194 turbines as tall as 200m located 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole and nine from Swanage, is currently going through the planning process.

The Planning Inspectorate, which is examining the plans from Navitus Bay Development Ltd and will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for approval or refusal, held an open-floor meeting in Bournemouth last month.

The day-long session saw people and organisations from both sides of the fence have their say.

Now a series of issue-specific hearings is due to take place in Bournemouth, between Novem-ber 18-21 and November 25-27, to cover areas such as tourism, the environment and noise in detail.

Mike Unsworth, project director at Navitus Bay, said: “The project team will continue to work with the Planning Inspectorate, local residents, and statutory and non-statutory consultees during the examination process.”

There has been strong opposition to the plans, including from Bournemouth Borough Council, which fears a major impact on tourism, as well as the Poole and Christchurch Bays Association and Challenge Navitus.

Support has come from East Dorset Friends of the Earth.

Roy Pointer, PCBA chairman, said: “We welcome this stage because the spurious claims of the developer will be closely and professionally scrutinised.

“We also stress the overwhelming and mostly negative response at all stages. We feel the panel is carrying out a professional job and ensuring everyone who wants input gets a chance.”

David Lloyd, Challenge Navitus spokesman, added: “Challenge Navitus are very much looking forward to the issue-specific hearings because, as the Planning Inspectorate begins focusing in real detail on the impact of specific aspects of this madcap scheme, then the threats it poses to this unique region will be starkly exposed.”

Angela Pooley, from East Dorset Friends of the Earth, said: “We are currently putting together our input that will be based on the detailed written statement that we have formally submitted to the Inspectorate, this can be viewed on the Inspectorate website.

“We are looking forward to a full and open discussion and are confident that the Inspectorate will look wider than the misguided local negativity and will reach a positive decision in support of the development.”

Public hearing dates

HEARINGS will be held from Tuesday, November 18 to Thursday, November 20 on topics including marine and coastal physical processes, commercial fisheries, water and air quality, drainage, noise and health impacts.

November 21 is reserved if required and the venue each day is the Highcliff Marriott Hotel in St Michael’s Road.

Further hearings will take place November 25-27, at the Wessex Hotel, West Cliff Road.

Topics will include offshore and onshore heritage, landscape, seascape and visual impacts and socio-economic impacts, including tourism. November 28 has been reserved if needed.

Doors open at 9am each day, meetings starting at 10am.

An open-floor hearing will be held on the Isle of Wight on December 2 and further meetings will be held in Bournemouth in January.

More details will be published on November 10, and interested parties who wish to attend or speak at any of the hearings should email NavitusBay@infrastructure. gsi.gov.uk or write to The Planning Inspectorate, 3/18 Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN, by this Wednesday.