August 18, 2012

Turbines a threat to island life and income

Western Morning News | 18 August 2012

Scaled-back plans for a massive array of wind turbines off the Westcountry coast would still “destroy” Lundy Island as a unique refuge for wildlife and visitors.

The £3 billion Atlantic Array offshore wind farm, planned to be built off the North Devon coast in the Bristol Channel, is tagged as one of the largest renewable energy projects of its kind in Europe.

However, in May developer RWE npower renewables announced it was reducing its original plans from 417 turbines – 8.5 miles (14km) offshore – to between 278 and 188 in the wake of public opposition and environmental concerns.

The company launched a second round of consultation with people in North Devon and South Wales to further progress the scheme.

However, it has failed to assuage the fears of people on Lundy, who have urged others to object to the proposals before the consultation closes on August 31.

Derek Green, general manager of Lundy, which is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust, said the proposed turbines would be taller than the island and highly visible from the Welsh and North Devon coasts.

The visual impact on the island, he said, has been assessed as “significant” by the developer in its environmental statement.

Mr Green said: “The huge turbines proposed would loom over our small, unspoilt island, damaging the very thing that brings our visitors to us – they come to experience the extraordinary views and deep sense of remoteness that one feels on Lundy.

“The Atlantic Array will destroy this but we also believe it will have a significant negative impact on the island’s wildlife, as well as the delicate marine life which inhabits the Marine Conservation Zone.”

The offshore wind farm, which would be significantly larger than the Nysted wind farm in Denmark, which has 72 turbines, is expected to provide power for up to one million homes. Depending on which machines are selected, the highest point of the blades will be between 165 metres and 220 metres above sea level.

When the revisions to the project were announced, development manager Robert Thornhill said they were “doing everything we can to minimise the impact on the environment”.

“We look to reduce the spread of the turbines from North Devon,” he said. “From the closest viewpoint, the revised project area reduces that spread by about 40 per cent.”

The firm is hoping for permission to build at the beginning of 2014, with connection to the National Grid by October 2016, and further phased connection dates through to 2019.

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