Around 100 people took to the streets of Barnstaple on Saturday morning to protest against a giant wind farm being proposed eight miles off the North Devon coast.
The march along the High Street was organised by local campaign group Slay the Array and the message was simple: ‘Wrong plan, wrong place’.
Opponents of the 240-turbine scheme handed out leaflets, urging people to get involved and have their say before it’s too late to do so.
The peaceful march was met with a lukewarm welcome by shoppers, many of whom didn’t appear to know about the RWE npower proposal.
But a public meeting at the Park Hotel turned ugly when an array supporter was treated by paramedics in the hotel foyer.
After a number of outbursts, the unnamed man was told questions would be fielded at the end of the meeting. But following further heckles and a heated verbal confrontation with some audience members, he was physically removed from the meeting. His condition is not known.
Those who did speak set out their case against the array.
Slay the Array spokesperson Steve Crowther said: “It is startling the number of people in North Devon who do not know about this wind farm or who don’t care about it.
“Whatever you think of wind energy, this is the wrong place to put it and I think we have to make that absolutely clear.”
Also speaking, North Devon Conservative candidate, Peter Heaton-Jones, said: “This is not a party political movement but we all need to work together to make sure the people of North Devon have a say.
“If we don’t fill in the forms or go on-line before September 16 we lose the right to have our say for ever.
“This is about the Atlantic array being the wrong plan, in the wrong place. The risks are too great.
“It is not going to be decided by our locally elected councillors in Barnstaple or Bideford; this is going to be decided by the unelected, unaccountable and remote planning inspectorate who will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.
“We need to persuade the Secretary of State of the merits of our case. That the arguments that are put forward by those who are proposing the Atlantic Array do simply not stack up.
“In my view the benefits are far outweighed by the disadvantages that would be brought to North Devon.”
Mr Heaton-Jones urged local people to make their opinions known by registering with the planning inspectorate before the deadline on September 16.
Speaking to the Gazette today (Monday), he added: “The event went really well and it was good to see so many people in Barnstaple taking an interest.
“The impression I’m getting is that people are sleepwalking into this. They don’t realise the scale of what is being proposed or that there is a looming deadline to have their say.
“The whole point of the march was to raise awareness of the deadline on September 16 and I’m sure many more people are now aware of that date.”
Outreach events are being held in Bideford and Ilfracombe next week to provide impartial advice on the examination process.
A spokesperson for RWE said: “We have carried out thorough consultation and feedback received has fed into the design of the wind farm application.
“I would urge interested parties to attend one of these outreach events and to refer to the planning documents for further information on the proposal to draw an informed opinion on the project.”
Register your interest in the application by going to http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/south-west/atlantic-array-wind-farm
To view more pictures of the march, click on the gallery link at the top right of this page.
[photos available at source]
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