MAJOR renewable energy projects like the proposed Navitus Bay wind farm should come with a plan for creating local jobs, business leaders have said.

Four Local Enterprise Partnerships – including Dorset’s – have joined with Regen SW to urge the government to make the idea a requirement for all such large projects.

Their call comes in response to a government consultation on large-scale renewable schemes.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW – a not-for-profit company working towards a ‘prosperous low-carbon economy’ in the region – said: “Nearly half of all UK infrastructure investment this decade will be in energy – over £100billion.

“This is a huge opportunity to renew our local economies and deliver for local communities.

“We believe that renewable energy projects should make the most of the local skills.

“We also believe that this will help drive down costs by developing efficient local supply chains for renewable energy projects.”

He said the South West Renewable Energy Manifesto, launched earlier this year, aimed to exploit the potential for creating jobs in renewable energy.

“This is an important opportunity for the government to help us with that aspiration by ensuring all renewable energy companies have a plan to support growth in the local area,” he said.

The Navitus Bay project would involve up to 218 turbines, 12 miles off the Dorset coast. Project director Mike Unsworth welcomed a government announcement that more money would be going into offshore wind farms rather than those in the countryside. He said developments such as Navitus Bay would create ‘tens of thousands of jobs’.

The company has said its operations and maintenance base – which would be the park’s HQ over its 25-year lifespan – would support around 160 jobs annually.

It said the park could support at least 2,000 jobs in peak construction years, worth £1.85bn to the region’s economy in its lifetime.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax urged authorities to consider his views on the wind farm at a meeting last month. He has criticised the size and location of the proposals which he says will affect tourism as well as fishing, diving and sailing industries.