Navitus Bay: Wind farm seabed research under way
The company behind a proposed Jurassic coast offshore wind farm has started drilling investigative boreholes ahead of a planning decision.
The Navitus Bay wind farm would have 194 turbines up to 200m (650ft) high.
Cores of seabed material are being extracted to determine the most suitable type of turbine foundation.
However, opponents of the plans say they were unaware the research was being carried out and have described the move as "arrogant".
The work involves obtaining 15 samples off the Hampshire and Dorset coast "to help better understand the character of the seabed", Navitus Bay said.
It has employed Horizon Geosciences, in a contract worth over £1m, to carry out the drilling.
The move comes after the company's application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
Following the inspectorate's decision, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey will make the final decision.
Navitus Bay project director Mike Unsworth said the £1m was a "significant investment".
He said: "In parallel with seeking consent for the project, it is vital that we continue to gather additional information about the site conditions to help inform our detailed design of the proposed offshore wind park."
The plans have been opposed by local MPs and councils, who claim there would be a negative impact on coastline views, tourism and residents.
Philip Dewhurst, from Save our Dorset Seaside, said: "This is typical of the arrogance of the developer, to start work before the planning decision."
Navitus Bay claims the wind farm will contribute £1.6bn to the economy over 25 years, and generate power for up to 700,000 homes.