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Tourist cost of turbines  

Plans to switch to low-carbon energy sources could ruin the tourist industry in Sidmouth according to Councillor Stuart Hughes.

His comments follow the Crown Estates website higlighting the area as a potential site for wind turbines.

At a meeting of the environment, economy and culture overview committee earlier this month, Mr Hughes spoke with Michael Hunningford, of Channel Energy, in North Devon, who said his company had ruled out major construction of wind turbines in Lyme Bay because it was impossible to consult with the navy and with other shipping authorities.

The fishing industry is also very concerned about the effects on fish stocks if a collision and major spillage occurs. Mr Hughes said: “It would be like the Titanic hitting an iceberg.”

He said plans for turbines in Lyme Bay had been kicked in to touch years ago because of the massive environmental and safety risks.

But he was surprised to see on the Crown Estates’ website that Lyme Bay was among the 11 designated areas in phase three of its plans for low-carbon energy producing constructions.

If their plans are successful, the bay could take 350 of the 7,000 nationwide turbines which will be two or three miles out to sea and visible from the shore.

He pointed to three main reasons why Lyme Bay would be a disastrous choice for such a project.

Navy operations carried out in Lyme Bay would be disrupted, the English Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world and passing ships come into Lyme Bay in rough weather because it is a ‘virtual port’.

With so much shipping coming in, Mr Hughes said there are bound to be collisions and that could lead to environmental disaster.

The Jurassic Coast is a world heritage site, a status granted by UNESCO with the understanding that the area was protected.

He said: “One or two collisions with ships hitting turbines will spell environmental disaster for the whole area, which would kill off the tourist trade and lose us our World Heritage status.


25 June 2008

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