Public consultation into wind farm cable plans

Miles Davis,BBC political reporter, Devon, @milesodavis

Getty Images Saunton SandsGetty Images

The offshore wind company plans to bring an electricity cable onshore at Saunton Sands

  • Public consultation events are being held into bringing an electricity cable onshore at Saunton Sands in north Devon
  • Developers say they want to listen to the concerns of the community
  • Hundreds of people have objected to the scheme, which is yet to be given planning permission

Controversial plans to bring a wind farm electricity cable onshore at one of north Devon’s most popular resorts are going before the public.

White Cross Offshore Windfarm is holding public consultations into its plans to bring the cable onshore at Saunton Sands and to build a new electricity sub-station nearby.

The plans, to be considered by North Devon Council, have prompted hundreds of letters objecting to the scheme, from members of the public and groups such as Devon Wildlife Trust.

A campaign group set up to oppose the plans said the environmental, economic and social cost to the community would be too great.

Getty Images Saunton SandsGetty Images

Saunton Sands is a popular tourism spot

Saunton Sands is a popular tourist destination and forms part of the North Devon World Surfing Reserve – one of 12 iconic surfing locations around the globe.

The White Cross offshore wind farm is a test and demonstration project which will have seven floating turbines about 32 miles (52km) off the north Devon coast.

Al Rayner, project director, said: “It’s important that we work closely with the community while we are connecting the turbines to the grid and that we continue to listen and carefully consider the views of local people to take account of their concerns.

“We also understand how important the tourist industry is in Devon, and we will be scheduling as much work as we can outside of the busy summer months.”

‘Pristine’ environment

North Devon Council previously asked the developer to withdraw the plans but White Cross is pressing ahead.

Helen Cooper, from Save Our Sands, a campaign group opposing the plans, said the scheme would cause “environmental, economic and social damage”.

She said: “This would be industrialising a pristine coastal environment.”

The project would involve the closure of part of the car park at Saunton and Ms Cooper said the building works would reduce parking and put off tourists from coming to the area.

Anthony Kingdon

Hotel manager Anthony Kingdon said the “fantastic location” was the wrong site for such a project

Anthony Kingdon, general manager of the Saunton Sands hotel, which overlooks the beach, said developers had chosen the wrong site.

He said: “We’re in such a fantastic location, with the Unesco Biosphere and the Braunton Burrows.

“I just don’t really understand why the cabling has been selected to come in at this part of the beach.”

The rights for the White Cross development were secured from the Crown Estate in 2021 as a test and demonstration site.

White Cross has claimed the project will generate enough clean electricity to power about 135,000 homes.

Public consultation events are being held by White Cross on Tuesday at Braunton Parish Hall, from 11:00 BST to 16:00, and at Braunton Academy, from 18:00 to 20:00.

Wednesday will see another event at North Devon Cricket Club, from 11:00 to 18:30.

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