doc

THE firm behind the controversial wind farm planned off the Hampshire coast has launched a new bid to gain public support for the £3 billion scheme.

A series of public events got under way across the south yesterday where a new visual video display gave an insight into what the windfarm would look like from the south coast.

The roadshow comes to Hampshire starting in New Milton next Thursday.

Further exhibitions will be held on Lymington on Friday, February 8, and Cowes on Saturday February 9.

Navitus Bay Development Limited (NBDL) last year came under fire for its images lacking detail during its previous consultations on the wind farm, which is nine miles from Barton on Sea.

Opponents accused the firm of presenting the lower end of how many turbines were being planned.

Now Navitus says the new interactive model, which uses Ordnance Survey maps combined with photography, will allow people to view the proposed farm from anywhere between Lymington and Barton on Sea and see different numbers and heights of turbines.

However, opposition group Challenge Navitus is continuing to question the pictures that NBDL has produced in the wake of scaling back its plans before Christmas.

The third round of public exhibitions visits Bournemouth tomorrow before touring the area over the next fortnight.

Challenge Navitus says the NBDL visualisations are based on industry best practice, which is currently under review.

It says it has changed its own images as a result.

NBDL project director Mike Unsworth said it had to stick with the industry standards, but would adapt imagery if they changed.

He added: “We have carefully listened to what the local community have said during previous phases of consultation and have gone the extra mile to help people really understand what the potential visual impact of the wind park could be.”

Challenge Navitus has produced new videos on its website of what it says the wind park will look like.

It follows the changes to the scheme, which saw the park moved further out to sea and reduced the maximum number of turbines to 218 from 333, which Challenge Navitus described as ‘minor’.

Dr Andrew Langley, a scientist in mathematical modelling, who computed the latest visualisations and is a founder of Challenge Navitus, said: “The changes did little to reduce the visual impact of this scheme.

“Early on we realised that NBDL’s panoramas of the wind farm did not give a realistic impression to many people, even though their format followed the industry’s current ‘best practice’.”

Mr Unsworth said: “The main difference basically is because of us having to follow the strict guidance, the perspective of the images that we present are much wider to give an indication of what the human eye will see.

“The images that Challenge Navitus have presented are a narrower perspective.”

Challenge Navitus has immediately incorporated the research into its new images, said Dr Langley, and said that NBDL could do the same.

He added: “The key difference is that the scale of the images is around 60 per cent bigger than the current guidance would give, and this has a dramatic effect on the perception of scale.”

The consultation meetings are in New Milton Community Centre in Osborne Road on Thursday, February 7, from 2-8pm, Lymington Comm-unity Centre on Friday, February 8, 2-8pm and in Cowes Yacht Haven, Vectis Yard, High Street, on Saturday February 9, from 10am-4pm.