No amount of money can compensate for the “devastation” threatened by the proposed £3 billion Atlantic Array off the Devon coast, conservationists have warned.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England spoke out against the massive renewable energy plan as councillors prepare to discuss the application for 240 turbines off the North Devon coast.
Torridge and North Devon Councils are to debate the proposals at special meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with reports recommending they make no objections in principle.
But Penny Mills, chairman of the Torridge Campaign to Protect Rural England group, said she was “completely shocked” at the conclusions.
“Our spectacular coastline, our heritage, a unique marine habitat, will be ruined by this, as well as the onshore work and the construction of a gigantic substation at Alverdiscott,” she said.
“No amount of money can compensate the devastation this will cause.
“If Torridge District Council and North Devon Council do support the recommendations to approve this scheme, then they would be seen to be grabbing their 30 pieces of silver, although in this case it’s allegedly millions, to sell out the coastal and maritime heritage of everybody in northern Devon.
“Let us hope that the right decisions are made next week.”
Papers for Torridge’s meeting raised a number of issues it wants resolved before the application is determined by the planning inspectorate.
Existing noise levels on Lundy Island should be recorded before the offshore wind farm is built and then routinely monitored.
The report to North Devon Council also outlined a number of possible concerns including the impact of the drilling the turbine foundations on the sediment and the effect on local sandy beaches.
“This case is finely balanced, but considering the bigger picture and the need to generate energy, together with the fact that the turbines are a long way off-shore (between 8-10 miles) and will appear relatively small on the extensive horizon, they are unlikely to damage the tourism industry of the area and indeed may prove to be a much needed boost to the local economy and the skill base of the area,” the reports concluded.
“This outweighs the detrimental change in character of this enclosed seascape circled by environmentally protected landscapes, which themselves will be untouched.”
Developers had originally planned for the wind farm to consist of up to 417 turbines, but plans were scaled down last year.
The wind farm would be able generate up to 1,200mW of renewable energy from its site in the Bristol Channel and would be around 16.5km from the closest point to shore on the North Devon coast, 22.5km from the South Wales coast and 13.5km from Lundy Island.
The 240 turbines could produce enough power for up to 900,000 homes.
A special meeting of Torridge District Council’s plans committee will discuss the report at Bideford Town Hall on Tuesday at 1.30pm.
The following day, North Devon Council’s planning committee meets at 2.15pm in the council chamber at the civic centre.