Hundreds of jobs in the fishing industry will be lost if the proposed Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm in the Bristol Channel goes ahead.
That is the grim warning from Bob Gotts, chairman of the North Devon Fishermen’s Association (NDFA).
He said: “The NDFA is not against the wind farm; what we are against is its siting.
“We say put it anywhere in the Bristol Channel but not on our prime fishing grounds.”
He pointed out that many of the association’s members worked those particular grounds for whitefish and shellfish.
“Our members have invested millions of pounds in new vessels, upgrading existing vessels and equipment and our processors have also spent millions of pounds in their businesses which, up until recently, were looking very good, despite the huge burdens of regulations and controls spewing from the EU and its Common Fisheries Policy.
“Our members now face the reality of losing their best fishing grounds to an offshore power station.”
He said the shellfish income from the proposed site was well over £1.5 million a year and the income from whitefish was around £3 million a year.
“The whitefish landings for the early part of this year are more than 30 per cent up on last year,” he said.
“Our three main fish processors who buy from us have a combined turnover of more than £50 million a year.
“As with many businesses our processors work on a very tight profit margin of around ten per cent.
“So, if ten per cent of their income is derived from these fishing grounds then their businesses will fold.
“Do not forget these grounds have been leased (from Crown Estates) for the next 50 years by the developers.”
Despite the current economic climate, he said the fishing industry in North Devon, Cornwall and South Wales was doing very well.
“All this now hangs in the balance,” he said. Hundreds of jobs (are) at risk with more damage to the local community.
“The local fishing industry, an industry which has been here for generations, is on the verge of disappearing for ever.”
He said that the NDFA was committed to sustainable fishing and conservation and was instrumental in putting the Lundy Marine Reserve in place originally.