Efforts to revive the Atlantic Array wind farm off the Devon coast have failed, ending the prospect of large offshore projects in the Bristol Channel ‘for the foreseeable future’.
RWE npower renewables pulled out of the controversial scheme to build 240-turbines, producing 1.2GW of power, last month, describing the site as unviable because of the difficulty of sinking turbines into foundations 55metres deep.
Business leaders travelled to London this week in an attempt to persuade the Crown Estates, which owns the seabed, to open discussions with other potential developers.
Following the trip Tim Jones, who led the delegation from the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said the scheme, and with it any chance to develop the earmarked 77 square miles, is now effectively ‘dead’.
Mr Jones said the region could not afford to ‘squander’ a massive economic opportunity to harness one of the biggest natural assets in the world.
“We have had zero encouragement (from the Crown Estates) about re-opening discussions and they have moved one step further and removed it from the licence map,” he added.
“They cited technical and environmental issues – we need to get away from this flat earth debate, just because you can see (the array), because the economic opportunities are huge and should not be squandered.”
Environmentalists who staged a massive campaign against the scheme, which would be visible along the coast of North Devon and South Wales, were overjoyed when it was scrapped.
Regen SW said the German firm’s decision highlighted the danger of relying on overseas energy suppliers to make key investments about future power generation.
Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon, Nick Harvey, said the scheme could well re-emerge in the future, re-modelled by a fresh company.
A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “Having evaluated the site we feel that it is not a viable investment opportunity at the present time and we therefore have no plans to undertake further work on the Bristol Channel zone for the foreseeable future.
“However, the area remains one that has a good resource and in the long-term, technological developments that reduce costs could allow us bring to market a project on this site in the future.”
Steve Crowther, spokesman for Slay the Array campaign group, said the Business Council visit was a ‘wasted journey’.
“The Crown Estates had deleted the site from their development map even before the announcement was made by RWE, and have made it quite clear that they do not regard the site as suitable,” he added.
“This is what we have been saying for many months, based on the fact that the Government's own Strategic Environmental Assessment said just that.”