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Navitus Bay developer branded ‘arrogant’ by council leader over claims that most people are behind the scheme

The developer behind the Navitus Bay wind farm has been called “arrogant” by a council leader, while an opposition group has slammed its claims that a majority of people are in favour of the scheme.

In an interview with the Dorset Echo’s sister paper, the Daily Echo, on Friday, senior project manager for Navitus Bay Development Ltd (NBDL) Stuart Grant said that 65 per cent of the local population was in favour of the scheme, which would see 121 turbines, each 200 metres high, placed 13 miles from Bournemouth and Poole and nine from Swanage.

A scaled-down option would see 78 turbines placed 17 miles from Bournemouth and Poole.

But, in response, Cllr John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth Borough Council, said: “The latest contribution from Navitus about their wind farm proposals is disingenuous, dishonest, and deliberately designed to deceive.

“They arrogantly dismiss the deeply held concerns of thousands of local people, businesses and environmentalists. They discredit their own compelling research and evidence, which shows that 20 per cent of summer tourists will stop visiting Bournemouth. To compound the deception, they now suggest more jobs for people locally, but know that to be untrue.”

The Poole and Christchurch Bays’ Association (PCBA), which represents 50 residents’ groups opposed to the scheme, has accused NBDL of “living in a fantasy world”.

Philip Dewhurst, from PCBA, said: “For the Navitus Bay developers to claim that the majority support their venal scheme proves that they are living in a fantasy world. Rarely has any infrastructure project in the UK raised such fierce objection from all quarters as Navitus Bay.”

On Friday, Mr Grant told the Echo: “It’s up to us to deliver a project that has minimum impact, but maximum benefit.

“It’s easy for people to oppose something, but around 65 per cent of the local population support offshore wind and are happy to see it off the coast and that’s consistent with the national picture.”

Swanage-based opposition group Challenge Navitus has questioned NBDL’s claims on job creation. NBDL says that 1,700 posts would be created during construction, but Challenge Navitus says that is based on most of the construction work being done at bases close to the site and not from remote ports.

Borough of Poole has also now moved to make its position clear, following May’s elections.

Cllr Ian Potter, cabinet portfolio holder for planning, said: “When the council was in No Overall Control it restrained from giving a position regarding Navitus Bay. However, the Conservative Administration is opposed to the development, as it has concerns over the visual impact of the scheme, the detrimental effect on tourism and the potential loss of materials deposited on our beaches caused by changes in wind and tidal movements.”

The application for the scheme is now with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, who will make a decision on or before September 11.