30 September 2013
Campaigners have issued an open letter to Bournemouth Council Leaders, Bournemouth MPs and local media expressing “significant concerns at the negative coverage and lack of balance in the public ‘debate’ over the Navitus Bay Wind Farm”. Signed by a number of local environmental groups, campaigning organisations, a local Unison Branch and more than 70 individuals (including a number of Poole Councillors) the letter has grown in significance as the final round of consultations has prompted further negative comments from opponents - not least the selective use of data that has been widely publicised suggesting the local tourist industry will be ‘devastated’ – despite the overall assessment clearly showing there is ‘no pattern of adverse impacts on tourism trips and nights by domestic tourists from (existing) offshore wind projects’.
The letter stresses how the assessment of major issues that create the need for such a development are being ignored in the coverage and how ‘future tourism to the area is being threatened by creating an impression that it may not be worth visiting once the development is complete’.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition of groups who drafted the letter Angela Pooley pointed out how “the damaging approach being led by our elected representatives in Bournemouth, the Council’s Tourism Officer continuing use of selected data to back up his personal views, and the complete contrast in Bournemouth to the reasoned decision taken by Poole Council to support the development, have largely been ignored in the news, while a rabble rousing campaign, led by the same Bournemouth officials, enjoys front page coverage with voices of support consigned to the letters page”.
There is also concern over the apparent close links between council officials and the Challenge Navitus group which opposes the development, particularly how their material, rather than independently sourced assessments, is used by officials and Councillors at presentations.
Outlining the scientific arguments for renewable energy the letter calls on leaders and media organisations to “consider future generations over and above short term political concerns and to uphold their public duty to base their decisions upon reasoned and considered factual evidence.”
The letter was presented by Angela Pooley to Cllr Mike Greene who was representing those opposed to the development, at the recording of a programme on the debate for the BBC.