Array opponents hail EU porpoise ruling

Protesters gather in Barnstaple against the Atlantic Array. Picture: Guy Harrop.

Protesters gather in Barnstaple against the Atlantic Array. Picture: Guy Harrop. - Credit: Archant

Could harbour porpoises halt turbine charge after Europe accuses UK of failing to protect the marine mammals?

THE power of European red tape could halt the march of the Atlantic Array wind farm if campaigners get their way.

The humble harbour porpoise could become an Achilles heel after it emerged the European Commission has asked the government why it failed to set up designated sites for the protected species.

This includes the outer Bristol Channel and it says schemes such as the Array have been allowed to ‘potentially progress’ without sufficient regard for protecting the species as required by EU law.

The Brussels machine has leap into life and begun ‘infringement action for non compliance with Community law’, hitting the UK with a ‘letter of formal notice’, the first stage in the process.

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It follows a complaint to the commission by North Devon campaign group Save Our Marine Mammals, which believes the proposed 240 turbines will prove harmful to the creatures.

The Porthcawl Environmental Trust has also complained, and the World Wildlife Fund has submitted an expert report.

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Yelland campaigner Joanne Bell, press officer for Save Our Marine Mammals, said it was ‘a massive step forward’ in the battle against the Array: “Our government has been going against the rule of law to get these turbines put in,” she said.

“It’s not just us complaining that they haven’t done their home work, it’s the EU too.”

The government’s response to the Commission was submitted by Defra on August 20 and it will take around six weeks for analysis.

If it feels the UK has not complied, the matter could go all the way to the European Court of Justice, although it appears most matters are resolved before that stage.

A Defra spokesperson said it could not comment on the Commission’s letter because it was ongoing, but added: “We are working to identify further sites to protect this important species in line with EU requirements.

“Already we have taken action including introducing measures to prevent accidental entanglement in fishing nets.”

Developer RWE said it did not wish to comment at this stage.

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