Campaigners fighting the development of one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms have cheered a decision by North Devon Councillors to object to the plans.
After hearing 13 speakers put forward cases for and against the Atlantic Array, planning committee members vetoed a recommendation by their own planning officers to raise no objections to the giant 240-turbine scheme less than 10 miles off the North Devon coast.
Instead, they voted 10 to three in favour of raising a number of concerns to the Planning Inspectorate.
Speaking at this afternoon’s (Wednesday) special meeting at the Civic Centre in Barnstaple, Councillor Jasmine Chesters said: “I don’t see any economic benefit for our area; I just don’t.
“A development like this is probably right but not in this area. This is the wrong area and I don’t want to see it built.”
Cllr Frank Biederman added: “There are no guarantees this is going to bring economic benefits and I can’t support this without that guarantee.
“To describe this wind farm as the same as those in Liverpool and the Thames Valley is just madness.”
Cllr Joe Tucker said: “With so many ifs and buts it’s very difficult to form a balanced judgement.
“It can’t all be correct and that is the difficulty; what do we believe?”
Developers say the wind farm could bring huge economic benefits to North Devon and would generate enough electricity to power approximately 900,000 homes.
But the council settled on six concerns it would raise as part of its recommendation to the Planning Inspectorate.
Further to the planning officers’ own concerns about the disruptive effects of the drilling, and the impact of construction traffic on residents living on the B3232 Torrington road, councillors recorded their unease about the lack of economic guarantees on the table.
They also raised fears about the impact of the wind farm on the tranquillity, special qualities and beauty of the AONB; the possible effects on tourism in North Devon; and the wind farm site being much closer to land than other similar developments around the UK.
At similar meetings held in Exeter and Bideford yesterday (Tuesday), Devon County Council and Torridge District Council both voted to make no objections to the development.
In Bideford, councillors were booed and heckled after a majority of five councillors to four voted to raise no objections.
The plans will ultimately be determined by the Secretary of State who will make a decision based on a recommendation by the Planning Inspectorate.
Local people can still make their opinions known if they register with the Planning Inspectorate before the deadline on Monday, September 16.
Register your interest in the application by going to http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/south-west/atlantic-array-wind-farm