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Residents left unconvinced by Atlantic Array exhibitions  

Credit:  North Devon Journal | www.thisisdevon.co.uk 19 July 2012 ~~

Nearly 500 people from across North Devon and Torridge have flocked to the second round of consultations for the proposed Atlantic Array wind farm.

The exhibitions, which have been held by the company behind the proposals RWE Renewables, began on Thursday in Abbotsham and have since been held in Barnstaple, Woolacombe, Bideford and Croyde.

The first round of consultations took place at the end of last year, showing people plans for the offshore wind farm proposed for the Bristol Channel, 12km from Woolacombe, comprising up to 417 turbines.

Now the second round has begun on the back of RWE completing a draft environmental statement.

This document explains the development in more detail than has been available previously and will be submitted by RWE as part of their planning application to the Planning Inspectorate later this year.

Despite RWE announcing earlier this year that the maximum size of the wind farm had been reduced many people attending the exhibitions were still concerned about the impact.

The wind farm will now have a maximum of 278 turbines, all reaching 165 metres in height.

But Emily Dixon who attended the Abbotsham exhibition, said she had not found out much about it until now and were very concerned about the visual impact.

Emily, 26, from Northam said: “We will see it from Northam and I think it will really affect things like tourism.

“The representatives here don’t seem to have many answers.

“Is it really going to provide jobs for local people?”

Alan Wilkinson, 84, from Westward Ho!, used to work at Yelland Power Station and said he could see the futility of the proposed wind farm as a result.

He said: “Yelland had to close down when they found a better way to do it and I think this will go the same way.

“They have already had trouble at Fullabrook.”

Dezart Gaston, 79, from Bideford said: “I am very concerned about the wildlife.

“I don’t think the fact they have reduced them makes any difference, if anything worse because the taller they are the more impact they have.

But environmentalist Jonathan Lincoln, from campaign group Alliance for Wind, sees wind farms as a solution.

He said: “They are a symbols for communities of sustainability because they work.

“Every wind farm has its own impact but they are minimal. Wind turbines have a small footprint. They are quite, efficient workhorses.

“How many people live next to roads, noise from wind farms is overplayed.

At the exhibition in Woolacombe some people attending were most concerned about the effect on tourism.

Kevin Cook, who is leading a campaign group against the wind farm, Atlantic Disarray, said: “We are conducting our own tourism survey by having a questionnaire in the tourist information centre all summer.

“We were hoping to ask people the same questions RWE did last year but they won’t give us the information.”

Pennie Richards, who owns Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park said: “I have come into this open minded but I really think it will affect business.

“People coming into the park are concerned and we have lots of repeat customers.”

Robert Thornhill, the project development manager for the Atlantic Array, said: “We have had less attending the consultations than expected so we are taking that as a good sign people are less concerned.

“Following on from the surveys in the environmental impact report being completed we now have a much a much better understanding of what we are dealing with.

“As part of that we have reduced its maximum size by 40 per cent, which will mitigate the visual impact.

“We won’t be doing any further tourist surveys unless necessary, we still believe the impact on tourism will be negligible at worst.”

There are two more Atlantic Array exhibitions being held, tomorrow in Alverdiscott Village Hall, noon until 8pm and on Saturday in Latern Youth and Community Centre in Ilfracombe, 11am-5pm.

Source:  North Devon Journal | www.thisisdevon.co.uk 19 July 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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