A huge offshore wind farm planned for the Bristol Channel is likely to cause “significant” landscape effects for a very limited section of Gower, the company behind it said.
RWE npower renewables made the comment in its draft environmental statement for the Atlantic Array scheme.
But it added there was little evidence to conclusively prove a link between the character of a landscape and visitor behaviour.
The company said previous visitor and business surveys about wind farms’ impact on tourism “largely indicated that the effect upon tourism is neutral or positive”. RWE is the parent company of Channel Energy Ltd, which wants to build the 1,500-megawatt wind farm between Gower and Lundy Island – 22km from Gower at its closest point.
If given permission by the UK Government, Atlantic Array will comprise 188 to 278 turbines which, according to RWE, will generate the equivalent energy used by 1.1 million homes. If it deployed 188 turbines, they would be up to 220m high. If it used 278 turbines, they would be no higher than 165m.
The revised scheme is the subject of a fresh round of consultation, and was due to be discussed at last night’s Port Eynon Community Council meeting.
Council chairman Robert Fisher said: “People are starting to talk about it again. I think people do accept that we do need alternative forms of electricity provision, but is this the best way?
“When you add in all the implications, we just don’t know.
“Are they (wind farms) actually saving carbon dioxide?”
RWE’s draft environmental statement also sets out the likely impact on marine and bird life, and on commercial fishermen.
It predicted no significant adverse effects for fish and shellfish, but the wind farm’s construction had “the potential to disturb or harm” harbour porpoise, grey seal, common dolphin and – in the summer – minke whale.
The report said: “With mitigation measures in place, the majority of effects have been assessed as being of minor significance. The exception to this is the potential effect of piling noise on harbour porpoise during the construction phase.”
The report said once the turbines were spinning, moderately significant effects were predicted for lesser black-backed gull and Manx shearwater.
Atlantic Array is expected to cost more than £7 billion, with work starting in 2016 if approved.
By 2020, the UK is expected to source 15 per cent of all its energy from renewable sources.
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