Council to examine Array ‘opportunities’

District councils to make plans to maximise potential benefits from proposed offshore wind farm development.

NORTH Devon and Torridge district councils are to explore the opportunities that the proposed Atlantic Array offshore wind farm could bring to the local area.

During executive and committee meetings held this week, approval was given for officers to go ahead and make plans to maximise all possible benefits to the local area, should the application be approved.

This includes looking at providing funding opportunities for local communities, developing the skills for the present and future local workforce, helping to provide local businesses with opportunities to act as suppliers and looking at how the development can benefit local tourism businesses.

Executive Member for Strategic Planning at North Devon Council, Councillor Mike Edmunds, said: “Giving approval for this work to be carried out by officers does not commit the council to any view on whether the development is acceptable or not for the local area.

“We are just allowing officers to look at how we can support any potential benefits that it may bring to the local economy.”

Cllr Barry Parsons, Leader of Torridge District Council, added: “It’s no secret that Torridge is looking at all forms of different energy and if we can find out all the benefits now, we’ll be able to make sound decisions later.

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“I also hope that developers will look to support our local communities, as there will inevitably be sacrifices that have to made for the national good.”

The proposed development includes offshore wind turbines, accommodation platforms and meteorological masts, as well as an onshore substation.

The application is expected to be submitted early next year, with a decision by the Planning Inspectorate due in early 2014.

If approved, construction is expected to start mid 2017 with the first energy production late 2018.

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