THE next stage of consultation into controversial plans to build a giant £3bn wind farm off the Hampshire coast will be delayed.

The company behind the Navitus Bay Wind Park project says the delay is needed due to the overwhelming response from the second round of the consultation.

The added time will allow all the feedback to be fully considered and ensure any changes to the proposals can be made before the next stage starts.

As previously reported in the Daily Echo, Dutch-based energy firm Eneco wants to build up to 300 wind turbines nine miles from Barton-on-Sea, 14 miles from Lymington and 8.4 miles from The Needles on the Isle of Wight.

The scheme has already led to objections from groups including the Hamble-based Royal Yachting Association, which is concerned about the impact on leisure sailing.

But Eneco says boating through the wind farm will be permitted as the turbines will be at least 750m apart.

An application is due to be submitted next year. If granted, the turbines could be operational by 2020.

The third round of the consultation will now take place in February next year.

Mike Unsworth, project director of Navitus Bay, said: “It has always been our intention that community consultation has a real bearing on our proposals and this small delay demonstrates this commitment.

“By rescheduling the next stage of consultation we will be able to dedicate the additional time and resources necessary to fully consider the feedback we have received and identify how we can respond positively given the engineering and environmental constraints of this complex project. “The extra time will also enable us to produce additional new photo montages showing how the wind park could look from various points along the coast.

“We will continue to meet and engage constructively with consultees and stakeholder groups over the coming months, and we look forward to providing a comprehensive and detailed overview of how the proposals have evolved in response to public feedback in the new year.”