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Deadline looming for public views on turbines plan  

Credit:  South Wales Evening Post | September 14, 2013 | www.thisissouthwales.co.uk ~~

The clock is ticking to have your say about Atlantic Array – the vast offshore wind farm proposed between Gower, Lundy and North Devon.

Noon on Monday is the deadline to register as an interested party. This is in effect a ticket to be part of the examination of the £3.8billion project, which will be scrutinised by the UK planning inspectorate.

The 200sq km wind farm would be 22km from Gower at its closest point and comprise a maximum of 240 turbines, which would be a maximum of 220m tall.

Developer RWE npower renewables said Atlantic Array would generate electricity for the equivalent of 900,000 homes, which takes into account historic wind speeds at the area in question.

Swansea Council resolved to register as formal consultee at a meeting last month.

North Devon Council voted against the Atlantic Array plans this week, arguing there was a lack of economic benefit to the area, damage to the beauty of North Devon and tourism and the wind farm’s proximity to the coast.

Also this week, Reynoldston Community Council, Gower, resolved to object on visual impact grounds.

A preliminary meeting involving the planning inspectorate and interested parties is likely to be held towards the end of the year.

Atlantic Array appeared recently to have become embroiled in infringement action by the European Commission (EC) against the UK Government concerning a lack of protected areas for harbour porpoises. An EC letter seen by the Post said wind farms being considered in the Outer Bristol Channel were “being allowed to progress potentially without sufficient regard to the needs of the protection of the species” (harbour porpoises).

The UK Government has responded to the EC’s letter and said the commission’s action was not relevant to the Atlantic Array scheme.

A Defra spokeswoman said: “We are working to identify further sites to protect this important species in line with European Union requirements.”

In an environmental statement accompanying its development consent application, RWE said harbour porpoise, common dolphin and grey seals were present at the site all-year round.

It said building an offshore wind farm had the potential to harm these species, but found the effects to be “of minor adverse significance”.

It has, however, pledged to monitor marine mammal responses.

Source:  South Wales Evening Post | September 14, 2013 | www.thisissouthwales.co.uk

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