Councillors who got a private glimpse of plans for an offshore windfarm in the Bristol Channel said it would ruin the North Devon coastline.
Energy company RWE Npower Renewables, gave councillors from both Torridge and North Devon a private viewing of artist’s impressions of the Atlantic Array development last week.
The development, if given the go ahead, would involve hundreds of wind turbines to generate electricity.
They would be placed out to sea between North Devon and South Wales, sitting around 13 miles off the coast.
Giant underwater cables would eventually link the turbines to a sub station near Alverdiscott.
And several offshore platforms for workers would also be built out to sea.
RWE Npower Renewables toldthe Journal they are planning on holding several public consultations in September across the area, but confirmed this meeting was just for councillors.
The company refused to allow the Journal to reproduce the images shown to councillors, saying: “Unfortunately our visual images are created by an independent third party visual consultant.
“We have to ensure they are reproduced correctly as the files are designed to be printed at set sizes, viewed from a specific distance.
“As we have no control over how they reproduce in newspaper format, we have a policy against about sending out photomontages.”
Those who did see them say they were shocked at the impact the wind turbines would have on the landscape, commenting they would be far more visible than they initially believed.
Others added they were also sceptical about how much the local economy would benefit from the building of the windfarm, having learnt at the meeting no local harbours had been deemed suitable for servicing the build by the company.
Leader of Torridge District Council Barry Parsons was at the meeting and said: “I do have concerns about benefits to our communities.
“We need to get companies like these to put back into our communities.
“We need to secure jobs for our young people as many are being forced to move away.”
Deputy leader of North Devon Council Rodney Cann said: “I’m very concerned about the visual impact this would have on the area.
“I’ve always been more supportive of offshore windfarms as opposed to land-based farms because we were told it would be miles offshore, but you can still see them.
“They are talking of anything from 180-400 wind turbines out there.”
He added: “We were shown a montage of images of what it would look like and I was shocked because it looked as though on the horizon there would be a white line right across in front of all our beaches.
“If you were sat on Woolacombe you’d be able to see a white line on the horizon – it makes for an industrial seascape, it would almost enclose the coast.
“We don’t want a line of turbines on the horizon. The problem is we already have Fullabrook dominating the landscape, and we’re in a situation where it’s no longer looking like the rural county we had before.
“One of my main concerns is that none of us could possibly envisage the reality of Fullabrook from the initial drawings, and we don’t for one minute want another situation like that on our hands.
“Whether you like turbines or not, what we have to be realistic about is that it changes the landscape and I think it will have an adverse affect on the view from our biggest assets, which are the beaches.”
Robert Thornhill, Development Manager for the Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm said: “We have been making good progress with the proposal for Atlantic Array and throughout September we will undertake a comprehensive programme of formal consultation with local communities.
“We are continuing to work with the local authorities in North Devon, and partners such as Regen SW, to maximise the potential economic benefits of the project for the local area.
“We recently held a supply chain event at Petroc College to educate local companies about the opportunities that exist for them to support offshore wind farm projects.
“We are also continuing to engage with the local authority about the potential for a North Devon port to support the operations and maintenance of the wind farm.”
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