September 25, 2013

Controversial Atlantic Array wind farm plan ‘is in disarray’

By Adam Walmesley | Western Morning news | September 25, 2013 |

A Westcountry MP has said there is “growing momentum” against one of the biggest offshore wind farms in the world.

Conservative Geoffrey Cox spoke of a “very strong” surge of opposition in his Torridge and West Devon constituency as well as in North Devon over the controversial Atlantic Array project – a wind farm proposed off the Westcountry coast.

“People feel the burden of impact has been disproportionately placed on communities in Devon and yet, unlike in South Wales, it is unlikely to benefit us,” he said.

Mr Cox’s comments came yesterday evening after Torridge District Council performed a U-turn on Monday night over its decision to support the 240-turbine scheme.

The multi-billion pound project for the 220-metre high turbines built nine miles (16km) off the North Devon coast was rejected by North Devon Council earlier this month.

Bob Barfoot, chairman of the CPRE North Devon branch, said: “The Atlantic Array development is in a state of disarray within the district councils as well as the county council.”

RWE npower renewables – the company behind the plans – said it had worked to reduce the visual impact of the turbines. It said the wind farm would produce enough power for the average needs of 900,000 homes.

But Mr Cox said there were fears that the impact would be “too heavy” on the local community and that RWE had done “too little” to alleviate those concerns.

“The Atlantic Array project is a recipe for real anxiety. There will be major visibility from the coastline and the decision on Monday night does not surprise me,” he said.

Torridge councillors voted to withdraw their support “in the interests of the residents and the businesses of the Torridge District” after Councillor Chris Leather put forward a motion not to support the wind farm.

Mr Barfoot praised the decisions of both Torridge and North Devon Councils after Devon County Council voted in support of the scheme.

“Pressure may have been put on councillors not to object to the scheme, but in their decisions they have shown a degree of common sense,” he said.

Earlier this month Torridge’s planning committee decided not to raise any objections, but the full council voted on Monday by 15 votes to seven against the scheme. A Torridge District council spokesman admitted the two decisions were “a bit odd”.

North Devon Councillors voted a fortnight ago to reject the wind farm due to the lack of economic benefit to the area, damage to the beauty of north Devon and tourism, and its closeness to the coast.

A spokesman declared that its councillors were “all singing from the same hymn sheet”.

In South Wales Reynoldston Community Council recently resolved to object on visual impact grounds after Swansea City Council voted last year to oppose the scheme.

The offshore wind farm would be double the size of any currently operating in the UK if the plans are accepted by the Government which will have the final decision on the development.

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