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Tidal lagoon idea floated for North Devon

PUBLISHED: 10:10 02 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:19 02 April 2014

District Councillor Malcolm Wilkinson (right) is joined by fellow councillor and Ilfracombe Harbour Board chairman Geoff Fowler overlooking Ilfracombe, an area that might be considered for a tidal lagoon if the idea is taken up.

District Councillor Malcolm Wilkinson (right) is joined by fellow councillor and Ilfracombe Harbour Board chairman Geoff Fowler overlooking Ilfracombe, an area that might be considered for a tidal lagoon if the idea is taken up.

Archant

North Devon Council to be asked to investigate the feasibility of creating a similar multi million development on this side of the coast to give a massive boost to the region’s economy.

How the proposed Swansea 'tidal lagoon' breakwater could appear.How the proposed Swansea 'tidal lagoon' breakwater could appear.

THE idea of a lucrative tidal lagoon off the local coastline is being floated at a meeting of North Devon Council this evening (Wednesday).

With proposals afoot for a lagoon, breakwater and underwater turbine development generating electricity off Swansea, the council is being asked if it should consider something similar on this side of the channel.

Woolacombe and Mortehoe ward member Councillor Malcolm Wilkinson has placed a Notice of Motion on the agenda calling for the council to look at the idea plus the economic and environmental opportunities it might bring.

In his report he highlights the £2.3billion it has been estimated the Swansea scheme might generate over the next 40 years, together with the enough clean, renewable and predictable power to run 120,000 homes.

“There are a lot of attractions from such a scheme,” he told the North Devon Gazette.

“The Atlantic Array was obviously withdrawn, and I was one of the biggest critics of that application, not because it was renewable energy but it was the wrong technology for our area.”

The South West has been designated by the government as a ‘Marine Energy Park’ and various projects have been discussed over the years.

In 2008 the Gazette revealed businessman Keith Apps was proposing a tidal barrage across the Taw Torridge estuary. Last year discussions were still ongoing.

A lagoon similar to the Swansea proposal would essentially be a giant breakwater closing off an area of sea, incorporating underwater hydro turbines powered by the rise and fall of the tide.

In addition to energy generated, it is anticipated a lagoon would be a huge boost to tourism, creating a haven for watersports such as sailing, rowing and canoeing, while the breakwater itself would offer walking, running and cycling.

“The obvious place would be Ilfracombe if it was possible there, but I am not an expert regarding depth of water and whether Ilfracombe is a suitable site,” added Mr Wilkinson.

“Whether it’s suitable for North Devon, I don’t know, which is why I want people to ask.”

District councillor Geoff Fowler, who is Ilfracombe Harbour Board chairman, who said: “When you see what potential developments there are on the other side of the channel, we should be looking to replicate something like that and we are in a fantastic strategic position to capitalise on what is happening across the channel. I would support any exploratory work that could be done, using the harbour board and its experts.”

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