Torridge District Councillors have made no objection to the plans for the one of the biggest off shore wind farms in the world –– in a decision which was split by just one vote.
The district council’s plans committee met at a special plans committee this afternoon in Bideford Town Hall to discuss the plans for the Atlantic Array as statutory consultees.
Dozens of objectors to the wind farm gathered at the meeting with some holding placards outside the town hall before the meeting started.
Penny Mills, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and Steve Crowther, from Slay the Array speak about their concerns
The Atlantic Array could consist of up to 240 wind turbines reaching 220 metres in height and would be less than 16km off the North Devon coast in the Bristol Channel.
In total 16 members of the public, as well as three councillors, all spoke at the meeting with the vast majority objecting to the scheme.
They urged the committee to do the same.
Patrick Manning, from Bideford, said: “I urge councillors to object in the strongest way possible.”
Penny Mills, the chairman of the Torridge branch of the CPRE, added: “Get this decision right and the local people will be forever grateful, get it wrong and they will not be.”
Niki Tait, from Appledore, said: “You could not conceive a more inappropriate scheme than the Atlantic Array.”
Members of the public cheered after each objector spoke.
One speaker in favour of the wind farm James Craigie said there were several bonuses to having the scheme off the North Devon coast and that more people object to pylons that turbines.
Tim Golding, a consultant working with the developers of the Atlantic Array RWE Renewables, said the need for renewable energy cannot be ignored.
He said: “RWE are committed to being good neighbours and I urge councillors to see this application as a solution the need for renewable energy.”
Speaker in support of the scheme was heckled and booed by members of the public.
Torridge District Councillors, not on the committee, Peter Christie, Gaye Tabor and Barry Edwards also spoke.
Mr Christie, who is also a Bideford town councillor, expressed the need to put mitigation together in preparation for the scheme going ahead.
Both Mrs Tabor and Mr Edwards spoke against the wind farm and focused on the impact it will have on the environment.
The committee debated the matter for nearly an hour.
Councillor Chris Leather paid tribute to the speakers at the meeting and said the main concern was whether the amount of electricity produced would outweigh the impact on the environment.
Mr Leather proposed the council should object to the scheme, which was seconded by Councillor Margaret Brown.
Councillor Kathy Murdoch was also against the scheme.
She said: “I didn’t think I would get as passionate as I have here today, once the beauty of the coast has gone, it has gone.
“It sounds like rape to me, sorry to use that term. I cannot even talk about mitigation at this stage.”
The leader of the council Councillor Philip Collins proposed no objection but added three additional recommendations to the officers’ list.
These included RWE provide funds for an exceptional hardship fund, residents in fuel poverty get a subsidy and the concerns of Bideford Town Council to be added to the list.
The committee then voted on the recommendations, which will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate.
The recommendation was carried with five votes for and four votes against.
Outraged members of the public shouted “be ashamed of yourselves”, “shame on you”, “a disgrace to democracy”, “fixed” and “stitched up”.