THEY are the controversial landmarks that always divide opinion.

Towering over the landscape, wind turbines are either loved or hated by people living nearby.

Now an energy firm is set to spark debate among residents in the New Forest after launching a bid to build the first turbine in the National Park.

Urban Wind wants to erect a 100ft structure on agricultural land between Totton and Netley Marsh to help meet the demand for green energy.

The company has applied for planning permission to redevelop a site at Upper Hanger Farm, a privately owned piece of land which is just inside the National Park boundary.

The National Park Authority (NPA) will have to decide if the potential benefits of the scheme would outweigh the visual impact of the 100kw device.

Members of the NPA’s planning committee include David Harrison, who is also a Totton councillor.

He said: “It’s the first time an application has been received for a wind turbine anywhere in the New Forest, so it’s bound to excite a lot of interest.

Wind turbines are one of those things people tend to love or hate.”

Another member of the committee, who did not want to be named, said the scheme, if approved, could pave the way for similar applications.

He added: “I would be more than a little surprised if it were given the go-ahead. “We cannot have the New Forest National Park dotted with wind turbines.

They’re an eyesore.”

But Paul McCullagh, chief executive of Urban Wind, defended the application.

He told the Daily Echo: “We’re proposing a small-scale turbine that will generate green electricity for the site, with any surplus being sold to the National Grid. This will help support the farmer and keep the farm viable.”

Mr McCullagh said the planned new turbine would be only a fraction of the size of those used on large-scale wind farms across the UK.

Urban Wind’s planning application says the turbine’s impact on the National Park would be “marginal”.

It adds: “The proposed site is located away from the fundamental landscape character of the park and from the conservation areas that contribute to the park’s cultural heritage.”

The application is due to be debated by Netley Marsh Parish Council on February 19.