Developers behind a massive array of wind turbines off the Westcountry coast "should cut their losses and go home" after a further delay to the controversial plans was announced yesterday.
The £3 billion Atlantic Array proposed for off the North Devon coast in the Bristol Channel has been billed as one of the largest green energy projects of its kind in Europe.
But RWE npower renewables yesterday announced its application to the Planning Inspectorate would not now be made until the New Year after staging a second round of public consultation.
That followed the company's decision in the summer to cut its original plans from 417 turbines, some 8.5 miles (14km) offshore, to between 278 and 188. Major objections have been lodged against the scheme including from the National Trust.
Steve Crowther, spokesman for campaign group SlayTheArray.com, said: "Hundreds of people made their feelings known back in August, and opposition to the scheme in both North Devon and South Wales is growing all the time. Plus, the campaign is now going national, among the huge number of people who love these areas and want to fight for them.
"We suspect that the postponement is because the developer is trying to come to terms with the representations from the major environmental organisations, such as the National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Trust, which clearly showed that the Bristol Channel location is unsuitable for this development, by the Government's own stated standards.
"It may also be that the increasing problems that the big continental utility developers are having raising finance for these massive schemes has led to them deciding to take a step back and see how the land lies. I'd advise them to cut their losses and go home. The environment for building a vast turbine field off Lundy is not going to get any easier over the next few months."
The plans sparked significant concerns on both the Devon and Welsh coasts, as well as on Lundy Island. Opponents have said the scheme would "destroy" the island as a unique refuge for wildlife and visitors.
RWE npower renewables confirmed it would be making its application in spring 2013: the original date was next month.
Development manager Craig Harwood said: "In order to give reasonable consideration to all the responses we have received, both during the consultation period in the summer and afterwards, we've decided to submit the planning application during the spring of 2013.
"This will mean we can consider all of the feedback thoroughly before submitting our application."