Major concerns have been raised about the visual impact of the Atlantic array offshore wind farm planned off the North Devon coast.
Proposals from RWE npower Renewables could see up to 417 turbines erected 14km from the coast and 13km from Lundy Island.
It received more than 700 responses during a formal public consultation. Chief among the concerns was the visual impact (31 per cent) followed by the potential impact on birds (18 per cent) and marine mammals (16 per cent).
Next came fears that the development could impact on local tourism (13 per cent) while concerns were also raised for the Lundy marine conservation zone, the potential impact on shipping safety and fish/shellfish disturbance.
Robert Thornhill, development manager for the Atlantic array offshore wind farm, said: “The formal public consultation allowed us to hear the views of local communities on the proposed wind farm and discuss any queries members of the public had.
“We were very pleased with the level of interest and would like to encourage people to take part in the next stage of consultation activities which are planned to take place later this year.
“All feedback we receive is essential to the wind farm development process and will be considered as work on the proposal progresses.”
The consultation, which included six public exhibitions in North Devon, gave local people an opportunity to have early sight of the project plans.
The National Trust, which owns Lundy and stretches of the North Devon coast, was among those to raise concerns.
It said: “While the National Trust fully supports UK renewable energy initiatives, it has serious reservations about current plans for developing offshore wind energy so close to shore in the Bristol Channel, with the potential for serious impacts on sensitive coastal landscapes and seascapes.”
A summary report of feedback has been produced by the company to explain how public opinion is being considered, as work to prepare an application for the offshore wind farm in the Bristol Channel progresses.
RWE had been planning to submit the formal application for the scheme, said to be capable of generating enough power to meet around 40 per cent of the domestic electricity consumption for the South West, in the third quarter of this year.
However, the firm said it was now likely to be in the final quarter of the year which would give it time to “fully consider” further responses.
The summary of the feedback, along with further information on the array, can be found at www.npower-renewables.com/atlanticarray. Reference copies of the report can also be viewed at local libraries.
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