Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Members of the council will be meeting with Rolls Royce this month to discuss plans to harness tidal power in the estuary.
"Our biggest resource is our river and if there’s any way we can use that to our advantage we should."
THE leader of Torridge District Council hopes to put the area at the forefront of renewable tidal energy by utilising the Torridge estuary.
Councillor Barry Parsons, leader of the council, will be meeting with Rolls Royce on September 18 to explore the possibilities of ‘Torridge’s greatest asset.’
Cllr Parsons said: “Our biggest resource is our river and if there’s any way we can use that to our advantage we should.
“We’ve got a fairly high tide and we have a restricted mouth to the estuary which bodes well for tidal powered energy, so it makes sense to me that we should be looking in that direction.
“I am very worried about the cumulative effect of wind turbines in the area and we have come under a lot of criticism because we have allowed a number of turbines to be passed.
“In the last six months we have passed six out of ten applications for turbines in Torridge.
“But the likelihood is those four will go to appeal which is out of our hands – we have our work cut out for us in terms of winning that kind of appeal.”
The council hopes that utilising tidal power will help encourage inward investment and could turn Torridge into a hub for renewable energy.
“Rolls Royce have done a lot of work on this already, and invested in several projects in Scotland,” said Cllr Parsons.
“I think we should be looking at being at the forefront of investment.
“It is a high quality British company we should be looking at much more closer to home in terms of supporting country in terms of any energy.
“I hope after the meeting, they might come down and have a look at what we’ve got to see what would suit the area, as there are many different types of turbine.”
Should the council decide to go forward with using tidal energy, there are hopes that it could provide opportunities for young people.
Vanessa Saunders, special projects manager, said: “We spoke to Babcock at the shipyard in Appledore a couple of months back
“There could be a chance here to get them involved; they have the right skills that are needed and educationally it could set a completely new mark.
“Babcock already takes on a lot of apprentices, and this could have the potential to become a renewable energy school in Torridge and expand on apprenticeships.”
Jenny Wallace, Torridge’s head of paid services, said: “Obviously there will be a lot of considerations, such as the environment impact and the fishing industry.
“We have a lot of wildlife in and around our river and the estuary and we want to protect it.”