Tory hope joins Atlantic Array opposition
- Credit: Archant
Conservative candidate for North Devon MP has teamed up with Slay the Array campaigners and UKIP chairman Steve Crowther to oppose ‘wrong’ plans for giant offshore wind farm.
AN unexpected alliance announced today (Thursday) has seen the Conservatives’ North Devon general election hopeful join forces with campaign group Slay the Array to oppose the controversial Atlantic Array wind farm.
Prospective parliamentary candidate Peter Heaton-Jones has teamed up with campaign group leader Steve Crowther, who is also the national chairman of UKIP, to fight proposals by Channel Energy Limited for 240 turbines just eight miles off the coast.
They launched their alliance from atop Morte Point at Mortehoe, a stretch of coast whose vista includes Lundy Island, from which opponents fear the 700 foot high turbines will be all too visible.
They announced a demonstration against the Atlantic Array through the streets of Barnstaple on Saturday, August 31, at 11am, followed by a public meeting an hour later at the Park Hotel.
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And they reminded people they must ‘register an interest’ with the Planning Inspectorate before the looming September 16 deadline – otherwise they would be unable to have any further say on it throughout the rest of the planning process.
Mr Heaton-Jones, who hopes to unseat Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey at the next election, said after researching the scheme, he felt it was ‘clearly wrong’ and had to be opposed.
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“So I called Steve and said let’s get together and fight this, because it’s right for the people of North Devon that we put this plan very firmly to bed,” he said.
“This is not a party political issue – I’m not working with Steve under any banner, I’m working with him because of all the work Slay the Array has done in effectively opposing the scheme – he has the experience and expertise in this.
“We are putting party politics aside, I am doing what I think is right for the people of North Devon and that trumps any inconvenience I might get from people in the Conservative Party.”
Mr Crowther said he welcomed Mr Heaton-Jones into what was a non party political campaign dedicated to safeguarding North Devon: “The key thing we all recognise - and Peter is joining us because he recognises it - is that North Devon is under very, very significant threat,” he said.
“Lundy Island will be ruined, because the whole point is its remoteness and natural habitat. One in six people here earn their living from tourism and the risk that Ed Davey is taking with the livelihoods of North Devonians is unacceptable.”
Mr Heaton-Jones and Mr Crowther were joined at today’s launch by Bob Gotts, retired former chairman of North Devon Fishermans’ Association, and UKIP member Michael Pagram.
Mr Gotts said the biggest issue was ‘the wind farm is smack bang in the middle of prime fishing grounds’:
“With limited compensation it’s still not enough as they would be taking away prime grounds that have been fished for generations,” he said.
“The array is only part of the wider picture, because the area that Crown estates has leased has more areas available for development and this could be just the start of the rot.”
He also said the Array plans would limit shipping to a narrow corridor, pushing vessels of up to 200,000 tonnes within two-and-a-half miles of the shore, leading to a fear of collisions with much smaller pleasure or commercial boats.
The final decision to grant or refuse planning permission will lie with the Secretary of State, but North Devon Council and Torridge District Council will have a role in the process if it is accepted for consideration.
• Register your interest in the application by going to http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/south-west/atlantic-array-wind-farm/
* THE parade through Barnstaple takes place on Saturday, August 31, setting off from North Walk at 11am and making its way to the Square, followed by a public meeting at the Park Hotel.