Bideford harbour master’s Array ‘danger’ fear

Wind farm could be a danger to shipping, says port chief

BIDEFORD pilot and harbour master Capt Roger Hoad has spelled out his concerns of potential shipping danger and of damage to the coastal outlook from the proposed Atlantic Array offshore wind farm.

A meeting of the Taw and Torridge Estuary Forum on Monday night received a presentation from RWE npower renewables, the group behind the proposals, which has also held a series of public consultations around the region.

The forum also received Capt Hoad’s views in his regular report on shipping and the estuary, read out in his absence.

In it, he said: “It is noted that the imminent Atlantic Array plans will drastically affect the outlook from North Devon tourist beaches and coast, as well as South Wales coastal areas, and completely change Lundy as a ‘remote’ island.”

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He also gave an example of the track of a very large ship laden with 171,882 tonnes of iron ore, passing through the ‘soon to be unavailable’ windfarm area.

His report said: “These vessels are regular visitors to Port Talbot and spend days manoeuvring in the already restricted Bristol Channel waters, while awaiting a berth.

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They anchor in the wind farm area and would be forced further up channel, but still close to the restricted area – a quarter of a million tonnes on one anchor upstream of a huge obstruction that does not provide any shelter, just danger in a fast flowing tidal area.

“By studying the tracks of ships going to ports throughout the Bristol Channel, it will be seen that shipping will have a much reduced area to navigate – especially the big ships that wait in the Bristol Channel to go to ports such as Milford Haven, Port Talbot and Portbury concentrating vessels nearer to the coast on either side.

“Given that shipping is on the increase, we need to carefully study the legacy that the windfarm will leave with us.”

Captain Hoad acknowledged that ports such as Bideford would benefit from supply work from the Atlantic Array, but said that, in his opinion, traversing the channel by sailing yacht would become considerably more dangerous.

Robert Thornhill, project manager for Atlantic Array, said: “As part of our detailed environmental assessments, we have collected data on existing shipping and leisure activity in the Bristol Channel and are engaging with commercial and recreational organisations operating in the area.

“There would be no restriction on navigation or recreational fishing at the Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm once the site is operational.

“During construction, safety zones will be set up within the site. The zones will be kept at a minimum to ensure the lowest amount of disruption, whilst maintaining high safety standards.

“Detailed communications would be released to give skippers and other sea users the appropriate information in line with navigation authorities’ guidance.”

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