OPINION: Realising the full potential of the Celtic Sea - Selaine Saxby

North Devon Gazette

Next in the series of my work in Westminster as chair of four All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs).Â

This column is focussed on my work as Chair of the APPG for the Celtic Sea and highlights how important the work within this group is in informing the Government about issues that might not always be top of their agenda but are hugely beneficial to constituencies such as North Devon.Â

North Devon’s access to the coastline is a fantastic resource for a range of industries. However, we need to ensure that the full potential of the Celtic Sea can be realised and so I established this APPG to ensure it is.Â

The Celtic Sea has huge capacity to become a clean energy provider, through floating offshore wind, with the right ambition and investment. The Crown Estate has announced its intentions to match this ambition, proposing to lease a floating wind project within the Celtic Sea, with an ambition to release up to 4GW of clean energy to the region by 2035.Â

This project will be a big step in support of the UK’s net zero target, the energy produced has the potential to deliver clean power to nearly 4 million homes and introduce investment, technology, and jobs into North Devon.Â

Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea will be situated many miles away from our coast, not visible to the naked eye and away from our most protected waters. Yet with all the excitement and potential, there is however a concern about the implications of these farms for the physical marine environment and our fishing industry.Â

There is wide debate regarding offshore wind farms’ impact on the marine environment. Concerns range from the breaking up of animals’ natural habitats, introducing invasive species through to harming the physical environment. But equally there are hopes these wind farms could increase biodiversity and offer new habitats to indigenous species.Â

These concerns and hopes are real and complex, requiring dedicated consideration to protect our marine environment and open opportunities for businesses here in North Devon to maximise the opportunities onshore, as floating wind develops offshore.Â

Often it is a challenge to balance the domestic demands of our communities and preserve our environments in the process. This is why we must look into the sustainable development of our offshore wind farms in conjunction with our marine environment.Â

My work as Chair of the Celtic Sea APPG means I represent and highlight the economic and environmental potential of the Celtic Sea within parliament and how it can benefit North Devon, the south west and Wales.Â

The use of the Celtic Sea in this way reveals how ‘Net-Zero’ solutions may be all around us. They do not have to create sweeping changes in our lifestyle, but doing things we have always done in a different way.Â

Potential solutions in the race to net zero are all around us in our natural environment, we have to transition from using our environment to working with our environment to create a cleaner greener future.Â

This APPG is also looking into whether it is possible to reinstate some form of ferry service from Ilfracombe to the South Wales coast, a matter I raised in the chamber last week. A project that has cross-party support on both sides of the Bristol Channel. APPGs are a great opportunity of working together across the House of Commons to deliver positive outcomes for our constituencies beyond the punch and judy nature of politics so often portrayed in the media.