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Sea turbines view sparks most concern

Visual impact and bird welfare have topped your list of concerns about a vast offshore wind farm planned for the Bristol Channel.

Energy company RWE npower renewables has published a summary of a public consultation held last autumn.

It said nearly 2,000 people attended its exhibitions, including one at the North Gower Hotel, Llanrhidian, and another at Swansea Civic Centre.

The company wants to build the Atlantic Array wind farm between South West Gower and Lundy Island.

It said 31 per cent of people who responded to the consultation raised the visual impact issue, 18 per cent brought up the potential impact on birds, 16 per cent raised marine mammal impacts and 13 per cent the impact on tourism.

Port Eynon Community Council chairman Robert Fisher said it had not formally responded, adding he didn’t think anything the council said would make a difference.

He felt “big Government” was pushing an expansion of offshore wind power schemes. “I don’t think they will really take any notice of a little community,” said Mr Fisher.

Rhossili Community Council has raised several points with RWE, including why the Gower exhibition event was held in the north of the peninsula when people in the south would be the ones affected.

The proposed wind farm would be 16km at its closest point to Gower.

The exact number of wind turbines required to generate up to 1,500 megawatts of power will not be decided until – and if – the scheme is given the green light.

The company is considering turbines between 165m to 220m tall. It would need 417 of them, based on the smallest, and 188 based on the tallest.

The project would also require up to five offshore electricity substations, weather masts, and up to three offshore accommodation platforms for maintenance workers.

Cables linking the turbines would come ashore at North Devon.

At the North Gower Hotel exhibition, RWE estimated that 3,000 construction jobs and 200 maintenance jobs would be created.

It said Atlantic Array could generate power, over the course of a year, equivalent to more than 90 per cent of Wales’s domestic electricity consumption.

The UK Government wants more power generated by offshore wind farms.

Developers can recoup the cost of building such schemes by selling electricity and cashing in on subsidies funded by all bill payers.

In the coming months, RWE will complete an environmental impact assessment, which the public will be able to comment on.

It plans to submit a planning application to UK body the Infrastructure Planning Commission towards the end of the year.

Swansea Council will respond to the proposal in due course.

A council report last September said: “Given the scale of the proposed development, the sensitivity of the Gower AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) and the potential significant impacts, it may also be necessary to commission such an assessment in this instance.”