Atlantic Array in Bristol Channel

The proposed Atlantic Array wind turbine farm would be one of the largest in the world and despite its name it would be located within the Bristol Channel, where it would be clearly visible from Gower and Pembrokeshire to its north and Lundy and Devon its south.

The next critical date in the planning process is Friday 16th September 2013. You must register yourself or your organisation with the National Infrastructure Planning Portal if you want (or may want) to make representation about the proposals.

Our website gives an overview of the proposals and the process. For a clear and more comprehensive examination of what this means in practice and for ongoing guidance see No Atlantic Array developed through the hard work of the Rhossili Working Group.

This local reaction has been based on an assessment of the pros and cons of the proposal and not an instant dismissal of all options.

Proposal

According to the National Infrastructure Planning Portal the current proposal is for “the construction and operation of up to 240 wind turbine generators (WTGs) with a maximum tip height of up to 220 metres, up to four offshore substations, up to five meteorological stations, inter-array cables that collect and transfer power generated by the WTGs to the offshore substations and export cables that take the electricity generated by the WTGs to shore.

The onshore electrical works consist of underground cables running from mean low water to the south of Westward Ho! at Cornborough Range to a new onshore substation adjacent to the National Grid substation at Alverdiscott in north Devon, and an underground connection between the two substations. Offsite highway works to accommodate the transport of abnormal loads to the onshore substation site are also proposed.

The wind farm is expected to have an installed capacity of up to 1,200 MW.”

Location, Size & Height

Although the current proposals are massive (as many as 240 wind turbines with heights up to 220m) this doesn’t cover the whole of the area available for development and is a scaling down of earlier plans. This could be the first of several applications for the area.

It is expected that the turbines would be visible for 50km so would be clearly seen from all the neighbouring coasts as well as from higher land with views across this part of the Bristol Channel.

For comparison, Lundy, which is visible from coastal cliffs from Oxwich Point along to Rhossili and beyond, has a high point of 142m; Ilfracombe, which is clearly visible across the Bristol Channel from Horton, has a high point of 270m; Cefn Bryn, which has vistas across the Bristol Channel, has a high point of 188m.

The development would be 9 miles (14 km) off the coast of north Devon, and 10 miles (16 km) off the coast of South Wales. It would cover an area the size of the Isle of Wight.

For visual representation see xxx at xxx.

Developers RWE nPower Renewables have published a location map.

Issues & Concerns

The main concern of local people in the Gower and Swansea area is likely to be the visibility of the turbines by day and by night, though there are other issues associated with wind turbines and this development in particular. The turbines would be visible across the sea horizon and would obscure parts of the opposite coasts. There would be lighting on turbines and on ancillary buildings.

The people likely to be affected are local residents, holiday-makers and businesses in the tourism and hospitality trades. Holiday-makers would have a choice of whether to visit or not. Research by the Scottish Government has confirmed that the presence of a wind farm on a map would discourage some visitors. Important locations and views prominently featured in marketing materials for South Wales would be affected. Walkers, photographers and birders would be specifically aware.

Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for good reason. Local householders and businesses are constrained by planning regulations which help protect the character of the area and the local authority expends significant resources for the same reason. There has been investment to develop a coastal path all around Gower.

There is doubt over the value of offshore wind farms as a source of energy because of their inefficiency, the need to match them with reliable sources when they fail, and the materials used in their manufacture and installation. Other concerns for this development include its impact on sediment deposits, on surfing waves, on birds migrating down the west coast of Britain via Lundy, and on sea birds and sea life.

Alternatives

If this wind turbine farm were located further out on the Continental Shelf it would be less intrusive.

Alternatively, progress is being made in wave and tidal power which can be captured without the high towers and blades of the wind turbines.

Energy security is important but it doesn't have to be achieved this way.

Consultation

The developers, RWE nPower Renewables, have obtained development rights from the Crown Estates.

They had a statutory obligation to carry out public consultations before they sought planning permission from the UK-wide Infrastructure Planning Committee and there were consultation exercises in 2011 and 2012.

In July 2013 they submitted their plans to the IPC and, as required, have issued public notices through local newspapers including the Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post (add dates xxx).

The next critical date is the 16th September 2013. You must register yourself or your organisation with the National Infrastructure Planning Portal if you want (or may want) to make representation about the proposals. See No Atlantic Array for detailed guidance.

What You Can Do

The most important things you can do are to make your views known to the Infrastructure Planning Committee and to spread the word to others who may be concerned about this development.

The Rhossili Working Group have taken on a major task in fully assessing and responding to proposals. Benefit from their research and offer your help if you can at No Atlantic Array.

In the News & Other Links

Focussed assessment and guidance at No Atlantic Array.

The information-packed Windbyte at www.windbyte.co.uk/windpower.html.

The Mail Online covers a variety of topics. How the search for green power in the west is causing enviromental disaster in China (from start), the impact of wind turbines on our land and seascape (starts near the word Monadhliath), How Turbines Work (see illustrated panel) and How the Energy Options Stack Up (from illustrated panel): In China, the true cost of Britain's clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale at www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html.

This Is Devon reports on National Trust Statement at www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Industrial-scale-wind-farm-destroy-wild-beautiful/story-16635773-detail/story.html.

Wales Online reports concerns from Porthcawl at www.walesonline.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/bridgend-maesteg/2011/09/22/porthcawl-residents-concerns-over-proposed-offshore-wind-farm-in-bristol-channel-91466-29469773/