North Devon must do battle for array benefits

Councillor fears Atlantic Array could signal more pain than gain for North Devon.

A NORTH Devon Councillor has warned North Devon must fight ‘tooth and nail’ to reap any benefits from the Atlantic Array offshore windfarm.

Cllr Rodney Cann said there was a real danger the region could miss out on a host of community and employment opportunities that the proposed 417-turbine Bristol Channel development could bring.

Speaking to the Gazette after joining councillors and officers form Torridge and North Devon on a fact-finding mission in North Wales, Cllr Cann said: “There is a feeling that North Devon will get all of the pain and South Wales will get all the gain.

“We have been given promises of benefits for Ilfracombe and similar areas but there is nothing of any real substance being proposed at this stage.

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“The best hope we have is for servicing and maintenance from Ilfracombe but even that is questionable because of the size of the port.

“Construction and assembly will almost certainly take place in South Wales because there is nowhere in North Devon big enough to accommodate it at the moment.

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“If this does go ahead in the face of public opposition, there will be on-going land disruption locally due to the grid connection t at Alverdiscott – we must fight tooth and nail for the community benefits to come to North Devon.”

During Thursday’s sight-seeing exercise, organised by Atlantic Array developers RWE npower renewables, the councils’ joint working party was shown a 25-turbine development at Rhyl Flats, and a 30-turbine array at North Hoyle, as well as a 160-turbine site currently under construction at nearby Gwynt y Mor, around 10 miles off the coast near Colwyn Bay and Llandudno.

They were given the chance to view the turbines from shore and at sea, and meet with representatives from the Welsh Government, Denbighshire County Council, and the fishing and tourism industries.

“As a fact-finding tour it achieved its objectives although predictably, everyone we met was very positive about the plans,” added Cllr Cann.

“It gave us a more complete picture of the impact but didn’t change the fundamental concerns we have.

“The guest houses didn’t appear to have been affected as there were a lot of signs in the windows saying they were full up but without a shadow of a doubt there has been a loss of fishing grounds and a long-term compensation package has already been agreed with the local industry.

“It would have been helpful to meet with local protest groups but unfortunately there was no opportunity to do so.”

Cllr Cann thought the visual impact of the turbines he saw was ‘minimal’ but added that the further 160 turbines being built would have much more of an impact.

He said that in light of the group’s protests, npower had agreed to look at altering the alignment of the Atlantic Array to reduce its visual impact.

He said: “My main concern has always been and still is the visual impact the array will have on the character on the North Devon coast, particularly when considered with the cumulative effect with the on-shore windfarm at Fullabrook.”

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