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Locals say wind farm work will harm area

Residents of Abbotsham have expressed concerns that the proposed Atlantic Array will mean ripping through protected countryside.

The main concern is the two-year building project and proposed 24-hour cliff drilling through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Residents are also questioning the large construction corridor, 60 metres wide, which will be created for the project directly through ancient field, hedgerows and pasture land.

Once the construction is complete replanting of trees within close proximity to the cable path will not be allowed.

Residents are worried wildlife will suffer from the large scale development by RWE.

Howard Davey, 39, said: “There seems to be little regard for the protected wild and unspoilt coastline.

“There is also still a question of the suitability of placing a 1.5 gigawat cable within close proximity of homes and rare nesting birds.

“As yet RWE simply responded that they don’t believe it will be harmful to residents.”

The controversial offshore wind-farm, due to be built off the North Devon coast in the Bristol Channel, could provide enough to power more than a million homes.

But residents are wondering how long it will take to offset the environmental impact of the build.

One Abbotsham resident, concerned by the wind-farm which could be the size of the Isle of Wight, said: “We are not against green energy but where is the sense in spoiling what is beautiful and untouched to be more environmentally friendly.”

Development Manager for Atlantic Array at RWE npower renewables, Robert Thornhill said:

“We are undertaking environmental assessments which will assess all of the potential impacts the onshore work could have on the AONB and surrounding area.

“The results of the assessments will be written into an Environmental Statement submitted as part of our application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

“If any potential adverse impacts are identified, we will provide mitigation to counterbalance any effect.

The drilling works have been planned to avoid impacts on both the AONB and SSSI as much as practically possible.

Mr Thornhill said: “Trees cannot be planted over the top of electric cables as the roots grow too deep. We have therefore chosen a route to avoid almost all removal of trees.

“Hedgerows and hedge banks can be reinstated.”