Nearly 500 people visited village halls in Abbotsham and Lovacott to learn more about a giant wind farm being planned 8.7 miles off the North Devon coast.
The weekend exhibitions by developer RWE npower renewables were the first chance local people have had to view the plans for up to 417 turbines in an area slightly bigger than the Isle of Wight.
Many at the exhibition who spoke to the Gazette said they were “shocked” at the scale of the proposals, which will be clearly seen from coastal locations from Hartland to Lynmouth.
Fremington Parish councillor, Jim Bell, from Yelland, called the Array “an abomination beyond the scope of human imagination”.
“We are fiercely proud of our stunning coastline; our panoramic vistas; our beaches and our wildlife,” he said.
“This unbelievably horrendous proposal will unite the people in this area and across the country.”
One Abbotsham resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m absolutely shocked at how big it is – I didn’t realise the scale of it until today.”
Other points raised at Saturday’s exhibition included concern about the plan to channel 10 sub-sea export cables though the nearby Cornborough range and on to an electricity substation at Alverdiscott.
“I’m worried that construction of the pipeline could cause disruption to the village and might open the area up to other development,” said another Abbotsham resident.
Pete and Kathleen Rush said they could already see all 21 of the recently installed wind turbines at Fullabrook Down from their home in Northam.
“It’ll be a lot more obvious than we first thought,” said Mr Rush. “It will be very visible from our house and will completely spoil the view.”
Mrs Rush said she felt it was too close to the Lundy No Take Zone.
“It will be detrimental to the wildlife and birds there,” she said.
Former Clovelly fisherman and lifeboatman Norman Headon, 79, from Bideford contacted the Gazette to say he felt offshore wind farms could obstruct local fishing grounds.
“Are they giving our local fisherman compensation?” he asked.
John Ring emailed to say he was concerned about the impact the development would have on shipping lanes in the Bristol Channel, while Patricia Butler, from Appledore, said she was “appalled at the thought of the proposed plans”.
“We are fiercely proud of our stunning coasts, beaches and wild places. People walk the coastal paths and look out beyond the horizon, over the Atlantic Ocean to escape the industrial cities.”
Other residents felt the visual impact from Westward Ho! would not be as great as that caused by the onshore wind farm at Fullabrook.
“At least people won’t be affected by the noise,” said one from the village, who said she was also more concerned about the potential for disruption during the construction period.
Another said the region needed to do its bit to support renewable energy projects and that if does what developers say it will, a wind farm would be preferable to a nuclear power station.
“It’s not to bad compared with other sources of alternative energy,” he said.
Saturday and Sunday’s exhibitions formed the opening chapter of a two-month public consultation period that ends at 5pm on November 10.
Robert Thornhill, Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm development manager, said: “Over the weekend we had 424 visitors to our exhibitions at Abbotsham and Lovacott.
“The people who attended the event found out more about the environmental studies that have been carried out so far, what the wind farm could look like and how they could comment on the proposal.
“The project team were encouraged by the number of local residents who attended and are looking forward to meeting with more people at our next exhibitions at Ilfracombe, Croyde, Barnstaple and Bideford.”
Other exhibitions are taking place tomorrow (Thursday) at The Royal Britannia in Ilfracombe from 12noon to 8pm; on Friday at Croyde Village Hall from 12noon to 8pm; on Saturday at the Castle Centre in Barnstaple from 10am to 5pm; and on Sunday at Bideford College from 11am to 4pm.
Members of the Atlantic Array project team be on hand to answer questions.
An application for a development consent order is expected to be submitted in 2012 to the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the independent body that examines applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects.
Consultation forms are available at www.npower-renewables.com/atlanticarray
THE North Devon Gazette is unable to reproduce a photomontage showing what the proposed Atlantic Array could look like, due to a publishing restriction imposed by developer RWE npower renewables.
During the summer months, holidaymakers were shown images of what the seascape could look like from local beaches, including Westward Ho!, Putsborough and Woolacombe.
Local councillors were shown the images at a briefing last month and although they did form a small part of the weekend’s exhibitions, npower continues to refuse requests by the Gazette to reproduce the images in the newspaper.
Spokesperson Amy Baynton turned down a further request on Monday: “We are unable to provide you with the photomontages as the images have been generated to provide an accurate representation in a specific format,” she said.
“The images will not reproduce accurately if printed in other formats.”
The company has agreed to allow us to publish the attached 3d video outlining the location of the proposed turbines.
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