Wind Float Atlantic - Credit: Principle Power

COLUMN: Floating Offshore Wind Farms and an award for our outstanding beach

North Devon Gazette

I paid a visit to Holsworthy Leisure Centre at the start of the month to have a look around the pool, gym and activity class facilities, which I hadn’t visited since Active Torridge took over the running of these in April. I was joined by our Chief Exec and other officers form Torridge and representatives from the local school. Following the tour there was an opportunity to sit down with the school head and talk about improving the ways Active Torridge wanted to work with the community and how we could improve community participation and access. We explored the possibility of extra activities for those children that wanted to pursue sport and sports coaching as a career path and the centre being able to provide coaching, leading to a National Pool Lifeguarding Qualification (NPLQ) for interested 16 year olds. Matt Wright from Active Torridge also shared plans for improvements, which included the imminent installation of a new sauna.

Another large part of my schedule has been focused on a different kind of water to that found in pools - namely the marine type. This culminated in two key events last Friday with a supply chain workshop for local businesses connected to offshore wind farm opportunities and the announcement of this year’s Blue Flag awards.

The offshore wind event was held to help prepare local companies for the opportunities to get involved in supply chains for projects to establish floating wind turbines in the Celtic Sea, which sits off our coastline. The Celtic Sea has previously been overlooked for fixed offshore wind development largely due to seabed depths. However the current need for energy independence, recent developments in energy markets, and also floating offshore wind (FLOW) technology have reignited the likelihood of significant investment in new installations, many of which are already in the advanced planning stages. It’s important to note that these are very different developments from the area’s previous experience, the Atlantic Array. These developments would be about 60 miles north west of Appledore, so won’t be either visible or have a noise impact on our communities, but should have significant economic opportunities. It was great to see a fully subscribed event with over 75 people representing many local businesses in attendance to hear speakers from some of the wind farm developers as well as Regen, Innovate UK and the Celtic Sea Cluster.

The opportunities for the region could be as big as the supply chain built around the Hinkley C powerplant development in Somerset, which has had a huge impact on local jobs and business prosperity spanning many years and that continues to this day. The premise for the event was to make sure local businesses and firms are ahead of the game as the sector is already moving and developing very quickly. It’s great to see how much work is already underway with our partners at Heart of the South West LEP (HotSW), academic institutions, the maritime sector including Maritime UK (SW), local businesses and other public sector bodies. Working together will ensure a joined-up and integrated approach that keeps as much of the prosperity as possible from these opportunities, here, in northern Devon. Alerting businesses to the scope of what’s possible and helping them to adapt and upskill their workforce is just the start of this exciting journey.

The week also ended with the announcement that Westward Ho! has once again been awarded both the prestigious Blue Flag and the Seaside Award for the 19th year in a row. The Blue Flag is the gold standard for beaches right around the world and is a huge achievement for the Northam Burrows rangers, the RNLI, and beach clean volunteers that

help us meet the 33 individual targets required for the award. Residents and visitors also play their part by observing the dog control zones in the summer and ensuring they take their litter with them when they leave. This is another great boost for our important tourism sector so hats off to everyone involved.

Leader of Torridge District Council Ken James - Credit: TDC
Leader of Torridge District Council Ken James - Credit: TDC