Councillor says Array decision was ‘not fair’

Protesters outside the plans committee meeting today (Tues).

Protesters outside the plans committee meeting today (Tues). - Credit: Archant

Councillor puts forward motion to full council to refuse support for Array after planning committee make no objections.

TORRIDGE District councillors were booed and heckled last Tuesday afternoon after voting to raise no objections to the proposed Atlantic Array.

Five councillors at the special plans committee voted for the recommendation, with four voting to oppose the giant offshore wind farm.

But despite the committee’s decision, a motion has been put forward by Councillor Chris Leather to the full council meeting on Monday to refuse to support the plans.

Cllr Leather, who was the first to speak at the special plans meeting and moved to recommend refusal, said he did not feel the vote was taken fairly.

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Speaking after the meeting, he said: “It was straight forward; my motion was seconded and should have been voted on first.

“I argued this at the debriefing but the solicitor told me the motion we voted on was an amendment to my proposal, which is clearly wasn’t.

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“This is a much wider issue than just planning and I have been trying for some time to get a full council vote on this.

“We have had nothing at all from RWE; there’s talk of the £1 million for the five parishes affected but that is not a promise.

“This will be a separate decision to the planning committee, as we still have until November to make our representations.

“I have put forward this motion and will ask for standing orders to be suspended to we can debate it – and I will be asking for a recorded vote.”

At the planning meeting, 13 members of the public spoke against the plans and many councillors supported their points during the debate.

Councillor Kathy Murdoch described the plans as the ‘rape’ of the coastline.

“I am a working mum who cares greatly about my children’s future, be that jobs, the quality of the environment or whether they will have power,” she said.

“But this will be life-wrecking for some people. It will be irrevocable, life changing and life wrecking.”

Council leader Philip Collins suggested the council go along with the original recommendation to raise no objections, but ask for RWE to set up a hardship fund and fuel subsidy for residents and take into account the views of Bideford Town Council.

Despite Cllr Leather’s motion being proposed and seconded, chairman Cllr Rosemary Locke moved the council follow the original recommendation and make no objections subject to Cllr Collin’s suggestions.

As the vote was taken, dozens of gathered onlookers booed and shouted cries of ‘shame on you’ until councillors left the building.

The full council meeting will be held at Bideford Town Hall on Monday at 6.30pm.

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