News the Atlantic Array offshore wind farm development will be reduced to a maximum of 278 turbines cuts no ice with campaigners.
Acceptance of the proposed Atlantic Array offshore wind farm seems no closer after campaigners claimed the recently revised plans would still be ‘a disaster’ for North Devon.
The announcement by developer RWE npower renewables that it would be scaling back the maximum number of turbines proposed from 417 to 278 has been met with scepticism by opposition group Slay the Array.
“The plan on the table is the same as before – but with one option removed,” said Slay the Array spokesman Steve Crowther.
“The previous proposal said they would use 417 big, 300 huge or 188 massive turbines to create a theoretical capacity of 1,500 megawatts. All they’ve done is remove the smaller turbine option.”
The group claimed the company would now use larger turbines of up to 722 feet in height.
Councillor Rodney Cann, North Devon Council’s lead member for the environment called the move a ‘cynical tactic to soften up the people of North Devon’.
“This is really quite a normal tactic. Developers come forward with a monstrous proposal and then come back to us at a later date with what is still an enormous proposal.”
The Gazette put this to the developers. Robert Thornhill, development manager for the Array said they had always said they would apply for planning permission for turbines between 3.6 and eight megawatts.
“The sizes of turbine we are considering have not changed,” he said.
“We have however reduced the maximum number for which we will apply for planning consent from 417 to 278 following responses to our public consultation and our environmental and engineering studies to date.”
Mr Thornhill said they still sought a development with up to 1,500MW capacity but had ‘significantly reduced’ the horizontal view of the wind farm from the closest points of North Devon by approximately 40 per cent, from 414 to 238 square kilometres.
But Mr Crowther said the announcement ‘was a ploy to make it look as though developers had bowed to public opinion’.
“In fact, they have not reduced the size of the development at all. Like the ‘extra’ consultation they announced in January, this is part of a carefully choreographed PR campaign,” he said.
“The closest point to the North Devon coast is 8.7 miles away – that’s the same distance as from Fullabrook to Huntshaw Cross.
“Everyone in North Devon knows how visible the Fullabrook turbines are from right around the estuary basin – and these turbines will be twice the size of the ones at Fullabrook.”
Cllr Cann added: “It’s still a totally outrageous proposal and it is still going to impact on the character of North Devon. Instead of rolling Atlantic views, we will get industrial landscapes. There will be an impact on tourism, it will affect marine life and there will be a loss of fishing grounds.
“The impact on North Devon is still negative. It is my belief that investment here is foolhardy in-so-much that in five years’ time there will be alternative forms of renewable energy that are far more acceptable and that don’t damage the environment.”
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