Devon could be a world leader in offshore wind energy if only there was the political will for it.

The North Devon Gazette has been speaking to Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of The Green Party, who was in Barnstaple yesterday (Thursday) to speak at a lecture organised by the North Devon Green Party, before heading to the party’s national conference on Friday.

Referring to the mothballed Atlantic Array windfarm and abortive Lynmouth tidal turbine schemes, Mr Bartley said: “We are an island and it makes sense to capitalise on that and the Government is simply not doing it, and that’s why so many of these schemes fall through.”

In the summer the Government pulled the plug on the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project, which Mr Bartley said could have generated as much electricity as the controversial Hinkley C power station project in Somerset.

But he said both the Conservatives and Labour had a vested interest in getting behind nuclear power as a means of subsidising the Trident weapons programme.

He added: “If you are going to rejuvenate the north shore of Devon it’s offshore we should be looking at – Devon could be a world leader in this.

“It’s up to the government to make sure that it works for local communities. The decision we take now will affect not just today but set us on the path for the next 20 or 30 years.”

Mr Bartley also condemned the ‘white elephant’ of the HS2 high speed train project, which he said was costing £56billion simply to make the journey from London to Birmingham 20 minutes quicker.

He added: “If that’s not spent that could provide £500million for 114 towns and cities, that could be money coming down to North Devon – imagine what that money could do for rejuvenating local transport.

“The money that has been spent in North Devon is a drop in the ocean compared to the money that should be coming here.”

He said calling for better bus and train services was not about condemning people for using their cars, it was about making it easier for them to get out of their cars.

With nine town and parish councillors in North Devon and a hung district council, he said one Green could make all the difference.

He added: “It’s clear North Devon wants changes and getting that Green on the council could change everything.”

At The Green Party national conference today (Friday), Mr Bartley was expected to tell the party they could usurp the Liberal Democrats as Britain’s third party.