Singer Adele’s eco warrior husband Simon Konecki has come under fire for a video his company posted online slating Britain’s biggest offshore wind farm.
The American businessman, 43, is the founder of an award-winning company that produces eco-friendly bottles of water.
But the Old Etonian, who married Adele, 29, last year, has made a surprising dig at the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm and the ’10-year scar’ it will leave on a valley in his home county of West Sussex.
The businessman turned banker uploaded a two-and-a-half-minute mini documentary on the effect the cables powering the facility have ‘scarred’ the South Downs National Park.
The power cables for the £1.3 billion plant are laid along the ocean floor, but resurface as it meets the coastline, leaving a “14km long, 12m wide scar across the landscape”.
The E.ON facility is made up of 116 turbines that can be seen above the English Channel and will provide energy for 347,000 homes in Sussex from next year.
But Mr Konecki’s company, Life Water, highlights the unsightliness of the eight-mile ‘scar’ the cable trenches have left, much of through Sussex’s Adur Valley.
But since the video was put online this week, E.O.N and the South Down National Parks Authority have complained of inaccuracies in the video, insisting the damage done to the landscape is only temporary.
Caroline Lucas, joint leader of the Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion, has also weighed in on the debate, claiming Mr Konecki should have highlighted other threats to the South Downs.
Mr Konecki used to live in Brighton, but now shares a £4 million mansion with his Grammy award-winning wife near East Grinstead in West Sussex.
The Government gave E.ON the green light to build the plant in 2014, on the condition it paid £242,500 to the park authority to make up for the damage done and £116,000 for 10 years of monitoring the area to make sure the flora and fauna recovers.
The Life Water video quotes a park authority officer saying E.ON has 10 years to get the park back to its original state, saying it would have been too time consuming to put turf back on the entire scarred landscape.
But a South Down National Parks Authority spokesman told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘We are disappointed that our comments have been taken out of context.
‘It’s important that the route is restored to the highest possible standard.
‘However, as the film-maker was aware, most of the route is farmland which will quickly return to pasture or crops when the soil is completely returned next year.’
They added: ‘A short section of cable passed through rare chalk grassland.
‘Here we made sure the turf was lifted and replaced as soon as work was completed.
‘Re-establishment of the chalk grassland will take time so we have a ten-year monitoring and survey programme in place to make sure that the habitat returns, as far as possible, to its previous condition.’
An E.ON spokesman slammed the video for its ‘inaccuracies’, saying: ‘This film contains a number of inaccurate statements about Rampion, in particular leaving the impression that no further reinstatement work on the onshore cable route is to be carried out.
‘It is worth pointing out that construction on the wind farm is still going on and the visual impact on the South Downs will be entirely temporary.’
He added that they had worked with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to capture seeds from the original plants to be replanted on the Downs.
Caroline Lucas told the Telegraph: ‘Like any major project there has been some disturbance, and I definitely believe the scar on the Downs should be re-turfed as soon as possible.
‘But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here by buying into the idea that offshore wind is anything but a technology that’s working effectively, and set to become the backbone of British energy.
‘The real threats to the South Downs are drilling of oil and gas – and to focus attacks on clean energy really does miss the mark.’
Louis Berry, executive producer at Life Water TV, said Konecki and his company are not against wind farms, saying: ‘We set out to find out more about Rampion and we felt that what we found needed to be shared.
‘We are very supportive of wind farms including Rampion, but it doesn’t mean that the current system is above criticism.’
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