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Guest post: National Trust raises concerns over Atlantic Array proposal

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The National Trust has again raised concerns over Atlantic Array, the proposed wind farm off the North Devon coast. We’ve submitted our response to the consultation this summer on the environmental impacts of Atlantic Array, and will be objecting to the proposals when they come forward to the Planning Inspectorate for decision later in the year.

Coastline in North Devon
Copyright National Trust
Image by Steve Mulberry

The National Trust supports all the principal forms of renewable energy, providing they are of an appropriate scale and design for their setting, and produce a net environmental benefit. We are demonstrating how this is possible on our own sites, with over 130 renewable schemes already in place and a commitment by 2020 to be producing 50% of our direct energy use from non-fossil sources.

Renewable energy proposals which have a high environmental impact, such as Atlantic Array, present a particular dilemma. The local impact on landscape, setting and habitats have to be balanced against the longer term benefit of avoiding damaging climate change. It is now clear that in the case of Atlantic Array, the impacts are so severe that we must object to the whole proposal. Squeezed as it is, between two sensitive coastlines, we do not believe it is possible to locate a viable large scale windfarm within this zone without the damage substantially outweighing the benefits.

We believe that offshore wind should make an important contribution to the country’s renewable energy targets. We have not objected to a number offshore wind development proposals within sight of the coastline protected by the Trust – for example at LiverpoolBay visible from Formby and at Great Gabbard visible from Orfordness, Suffolk. But we cannot support proposals that would seriously damage the beauty of our coastline, and believe that the locations chosen for Round 3 offshore wind developments have not taken sufficient account of environmental factors, and in particular the sensitivity and designations of nearby coast.

You can find out more about the Atlantic Array by reading our position statement on Offshore Wind Energy – Atlantic Array proposal, the North Devon Coast AONB Partnership’s position statement and visiting the energy company developing the Atlantic Array, RWE’s website. For more detail, why not read the independent report we commissioned from the Land Use Consultants, or our response to the Environmental Impact Assessment?

Blog post by Sarah O’Brien, National Trust External Affairs Consultant in the South West.

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