Opponents urge local people to fight plans ‘to the death’.

PLANS for the Atlantic Array off-shore wind farm have been accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

The proposal for the construction and operation of up to 240 wind turbine generators with a maximum tip height of up to 220 metres has been submitted by Channel Energy Limited on behalf of RWE npower renewables.

The application also seeks approval for up to four offshore substations; up to five meteorological stations; inter-array cables that collect and transfer generated power to the offshore substations; and export cables that take the electricity to shore.

The proposed wind farm area is 200km2 and the nearest turbine would be 16.78km off Mortehoe, 20.27km off Capstone in Ilfracombe, and 29.34km off Westward Ho!

Underground cables would run from Cornborough Range to the south of Westward Ho! to a new onshore substation at Alverdiscott.

Highway works to accommodate the transport of abnormal loads to the onshore substation site are also proposed.

The Planning Inspectorate's examination and decision making process is likely to take about one year.

People will be able to register to become an 'interested party' on the application from August 1 to September 16.

RWE said it welcomed confirmation that the Planning Inspectorate had accepted the consent application for Atlantic Array.

But opponents of the scheme said it spelt 'disaster' for North Devon.

Steve Crowther of campaign group Slay The Array said: "North Devon is now in mortal danger.

"The jobs of one in six North Devonians depend on the visitors who come here for nature, tranquillity and unspoilt views; a 10 per cent fall in tourist numbers could cost the area £30million a year.

"Our fish, birds and sea-mammals will be under threat, our fishermen out of work, and our shipping lanes an accident waiting to happen. Lundy will cease to exist as we know it.

"We face years of pile-driving, onshore construction and despoiling of the sea-bed, to build a massive white elephant producing intermittent electricity at three times the market cost.

"All this, in the second-best location for tidal power generation in the world.

"Tell everyone. We must fight this to the death."

The charity that manages Lundy Island, which lies nine miles south of the development site, has also opposed the plans.

The Landmark Trust said while it supported the need for renewable energy, the Bristol Channel around Lundy was not the right place for a wind-farm on this scale.

Director Anna Keay said: "The array will dwarf the island, dominating its outstanding seascape, and overwhelming precisely the sense of remote wildness that has made Lundy a place of refuge for wildlife and visitors for centuries, if not millennia."

Derek Green, Lundy Island general manager said: "We believe this enormous development would change the experience of Lundy for everyone, and we urge all those who care about our precious island to express their views on the scheme.

"If you share our concerns please make your views known."

Craig Harwood, project manager for the Atlantic Array argued: "The effects of the project upon the designated landscapes in the Bristol Channel have been assessed and the results are presented in the Environmental Statement submitted as part of the application.

Changes have recently been made to the project to limit the effect of the wind farm. The Environmental Statement also considers the effects of the wind farm upon tourism."

There is little evidence of a link between wind farms and visitor behaviour or numbers."

For more information, visit http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/south-west/atlantic-array-wind-farm/?ipcsection=overview