Campaigners against plans for a giant wind farm off the Porthcawl coast have vowed to fight on despite the company behind the project revealing plans to scale it back.
RWE npower renewables say the Atlantic Array project will cover 124 square miles instead of 172, its turbine numbers will be cut from 278 to 240, and it could power 900,000 homes instead of more than a million.
But Brian Saunders, of the Porthcawl Environment Trust, says the project could pose dangers to the Bristol Channel habitat of harbour porpoises.
“It will make no difference, not one iota,” said Mr Saunders.
“The fact is that they should not even be contemplating putting turbines there because it’s an area of protection for harbour porpoises.”
A World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) says the UK has not put forward any harbour porpoise conservation areas under an EU directive, despite being obligated to.
But the WWF recommends the Bristol Channel should be adopted as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
“We never go on the argument of wind turbines,” said Mr Saunders. “The WWF has said this is something the UK should have done 18 years ago – pushed out designation of conservation sites – and they have not done this.”
Steve Crowther, of campaign group Slay the Array, said: “The latest minor adjustments to RWE npower’s Atlantic Array proposals make no difference to the massive damage it will do to the Bristol Channel, Lundy Island, North Devon and Gower.
“The Atlantic Array is proposed to be sited in a place that has been specifically described as inappropriate under the Government’s own Strategic Environmental Assessments.
He added: “Opposition to this monstrosity is growing every day. RWE will find that if they submit an application in June they will have a monumental fight on their hands.”
Gareth Clubb, who is director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said: “It’s a shame the Array will not now be powering more than a million homes.
“But renewables firms have to be sensitive to the various interests involved and this decision was no doubt made for a mixture of commercial and planning reasons.
“We think it’s a very good scheme and will eventually help Wales be powered by 100% renewables.” Craig Harwood, Atlantic Array’s project manager, said: “The changes focus on reducing visual and seascape effects and potential underwater disturbance from piling noise. There are also benefits to a number of other areas, including commercial fisheries, birds, navigation and the ecology of the seabed.”
Mr Harwood added: “We’ve already seen Welsh ports like Swansea used by our suppliers to launch survey vessels.
“Since being awarded the rights to develop the Array in 2010 we’ve taken part in nine supply chain events at locations such as Pembroke, Swansea and Cardiff.”
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