Development Management Committee
10 September 2013
Application for a Development Consent Order for the Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm (Bristol Channel) and Associated Onshore Development (Torridge District)
Applicant: Channel Energy Ltd
Date consultation received by Devon County Council: 29 July 2013
Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment
Please note that the following recommendations are subject to consideration and determination by the Committee before taking effect.
Recommendation: It is recommended that:
(a) In providing its representation to the Planning Inspectorate on the application Devon County Council:
I. As Highway Authority raises no objection subject to the securing of appropriate mitigation measures as set out in the Environmental Statement and highlighted in the report;
II. Raises no objection to the onshore proposals from an archaeological aspect subject to securing appropriate mitigation as set out in the Environmental Statement and as highlighted in this report;
III. Raises no objection to the proposal from a terrestrial Nature Conservation aspect subject to securing appropriate mitigation as set out in the Environmental Statement and as highlighted in this report;
IV. Considers that the proposals will have significant adverse impacts on locally and nationally important landscapes in northern Devon (including Lundy Island) which cannot be mitigated, and that these impacts must be given full and appropriate weight in determining the application;
V. In the absence of a commitment from the developer to locate operational and maintenance facilities in northern Devon there is no economic benefit to the local economy of northern Devon which could be offset against the visual impact of the proposal as set out in iv. above.
(b) Members note the content of this report and authorise officers to prepare a Local Impact Report (for approval by Cabinet) which will set out, in detail, the Council's assessment of the impacts of the proposal in respect of those matters identified in (a) above in order to assist the Examining Authority in the determination of the application.
1.1 The purpose of this Report is to consider the impacts of the proposed development on Devon, agree the terms of reference for the Local Impact Report (LIR) and provide the Planning Inspectorate with Devon County Council's views on the application.
2.1 The Government has committed to targets for the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions through the Climate Change Act 2008. This will require the provision of renewable energy, mandated by 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive. The Government's UK Renewable Energy Roadmap outlined that in order to achieve the UK greenhouse gas emission targets and the EU renewable energy generation targets, more than 30% of the UK's electricity would need to be generated from renewable resources by 2020. It concluded that much of this would need to come from offshore wind.
2.2 Given that Government policy is in support of offshore wind, the Crown Estate, as the landowner of the seabed, made areas of seabed available for offshore wind development in three rounds. Round 1 in December 2000 consisted of 18 demonstration projects in 13 locations with a total capacity of around 1GW. Round 2, in July 2003, involved the Crown Estate making 15 sites available with a potential capacity of over 7GW. The latest round, Round 3, in June 2008 was designed to facilitate delivery of a larger scale of offshore wind. This process saw the Crown Estate offer eleven (later reduced to nine zones) with the potential for offering a further 25GW of offshore wind.
2.3 A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) into UK Offshore energy was undertaken by Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and ran concurrently with the Crown Estate's provision of sites. The SEA is the process of appraisal through which environmental protection and sustainable development is considered, and factored into national and local decisions. The SEA was conducted in stages. The initial assessment considered plans for additional offshore wind capacity to enable further rounds of offshore wind farm leasing in the territorial waters of England and Wales. The objective, to achieve a further 25GW of generation capacity by 2020 (additional to the 8GW already planned under Round 1 and Round 2). In terms of the spatial area covered by the SEA all areas where the water depth is around 60m or less were included. A subsequent SEA was undertaken in 2011 to align the assessment with UK Government's evolving policies for climate and energy. The spatial area covered by this SEA was the same as the first but also included reference to the nine Round 3 zones which had been offered by the Crown Estate.
2.4 The SEA was adopted by Government in October 2011 subject to some spatial considerations and the requirement for the project planning process to implement appropriate measures for preventing, reducing and offsetting likely significant adverse effects on the environment. The recommendations in the SEA added that offshore wind be developed in such a way to; reduce impacts on other users of the sea; nature conservation areas; environmentally sensitive coastal areas; and, that the potential impacts should be assessed and mitigated at project level.
2.5 The Crown Estate identified zones most suitable for offshore wind farm development. The criteria in the zone selection were waters up to 60m deep (following the feasibility assessment of the SEA). The selection process also ruled out areas of seabed that fell within existing exclusion zones, such as those areas already licensed for another purpose (e.g. aggregate dredging), it then evaluated the remaining areas of seabed considering other potential restrictions, such as the need for a good wind resource, the presence of nature conservation designations, Ministry of Defence practice areas and fishing interests. The resultant areas were then checked against a series of detailed datasets these included information on fish spawning areas, National Grid connections, Sensitive Bird Areas, and oil and gas licence blocks.
2.6 Of the nine zones identified in the process seven were within English and Welsh waters and two in Scottish waters. The Crown Estate then ran a competitive tender process to award the rights for developers to search for possible offshore wind farm projects within the zones. The Crown Estate awarded the bid for the development rights in the Bristol Channel Zone to RWE Npower Renewables Ltd, the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy, which has termed the area submitted for consideration as the Atlantic Array Offshore Wind Farm (referred to hereinafter as the 'Atlantic Array').
3. The Project
3.1 Channel Energy Ltd (CEL), a wholly owned subsidiary of RWE Npower Renewables Ltd is proposing to construct the Atlantic Array, up to 1,200 MW of generating capacity within the outer Bristol Channel. The Atlantic Array would be contained within an envelope of approximately 200km2, approximately 25km east-west and 12.5km north-south. Its location would be approximately 15.5km from the north Devon coast, approximately 22.25km from the south Wales coast and approximately 13.5km north of Lundy Island, at its closest points.
3.2 The Atlantic Array project contains two main elements, namely the offshore wind farm and onshore infrastructure, which includes development required for the electrical route and substation.
3.3 The application is not precise on the number, size and arrangement of turbines within the application area, however the proposal is for the construction and operation of up to 240 wind turbine generators with a maximum tip height of up to 220 metres. Ultimately the number of turbines installed and the precise layout would depend on the individual capacity of the chosen wind turbines. The following table sets out the indicative turbine dimensions and numbers.
Indicative turbine size (MW)
Indicative hub height(m above LAT)
Max rotor diameter (m)
Max blade tip height (m above LAT)
Note: LAT = Lowest Astronomical Tide.
3.4 In addition to the turbines, the Atlantic Array would include up to five meteorological monitoring stations that are essential to provide meteorological and oceanographic data from the site.
3.5 The Atlantic Array would include between two and four offshore substations. The location of these would be determined once the turbine layout has been decided. The power from the turbines would be delivered to the substation by sub sea cables. Transformers housed in the substations would step up the voltage for delivery to the shore via the export cables. Up to eight higher voltage cables would then export electricity from the offshore substations towards the shore, where they would be joined to the onshore cables. The offshore cables would be buried where possible, and protected where it is not feasible to do so (to prevent movement of the cables) to limit potential environmental impacts and to prevent any navigational risk to other marine users.
3.6 The Atlantic Array would require development onshore, comprising electrical infrastructure to allow the electricity generated by the offshore wind turbines to be transferred into the National Grid transmission system. The onshore development would include the cable landfall site at Cornborough Range and the onward cable route from the landfall location to the existing 400kV substation, located at Alverdiscott. The onshore cable route would be approximately 14.3km in length from the landfall to the substation. A new substation would be required adjacent to the existing substation at Alverdiscott to transform the voltage coming in from the wind farm to the voltage being distributed via National Grid.
3.7 From the landfall site, up to eight cable circuits would be buried underground along the proposed cable corridor to the new substation at Alverdiscott. The landfall and cable laying activities would be temporary and land within these construction areas would be reinstated after construction, with hedgerows replanted. The proposed substation at Alverdiscott would be an operational structure, designed to remain for the life of the Atlantic Array project.
3.8 The cables would be buried underground within trenches. One cable circuit would be accommodated within each trench. Therefore, up to eight trenches would be required. The cables would be buried underground at a typical depth of approximately 1.2m. The onshore cables would be buried within a construction corridor of up to 54m wide. The construction corridor would allow for up to eight cable trenches, a temporary construction access road, storage for topsoil and subsoil on both outer edges of the corridor and appropriate separation distances.
3.9 Once the installation work is completed, the haul road would be removed and the ground reinstated using the stored topsoil and subsoil. The temporary works site areas would be removed and the land reinstated to its former condition. Once installed, the cables would occupy a corridor approximately 34m wide. It is the intention that the hedges would be replanted using locally sourced native species, and would be based on restoring the hedge to match the remaining hedgerow at each location.
3.10 A technique known as Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) would be used to pass the cable underground beneath the cliffs at Cornborough Range; the A39; the River Torridge and its floodplain, the A386; and, the Tarka Trail.
3.11 The landfall site is located to the south of Westward Ho! at Cornborough Range, located at a low point in the cliffs to the north of an existing wastewater outfall pipe associated with the South West Water waste water treatment works. At this location, an HDD operation undertaken from the proposed landfall site would drill beneath the cliffs, exiting in the sea bed.
3.12 The cable route would cross the A39 between Ford and Abbotsham Cross, east of the roundabout at Abbotsham Cross. It is proposed to utilise HDD for this crossing as the A39 represents one of the main routes through the project area for both local and longer distance traffic.
3.13 The cable route would cross the River Torridge to the south of Bideford and to the south of the Torridge Estuary SSSI. At the crossing location, the A386 runs to the west of the river and the Tarka Trail is located to the east. It is proposed to utilise HDD for this crossing in order to minimise effects on the river, A386 and the Tarka Trail. The drill length would be approximately 600m long and would start and finish beyond the river floodplain.
3.14 A new onshore substation is proposed adjacent to the existing National Grid 400kV substation at Alverdiscott, which lies approximately 5km to the south east of Bideford. This substation would be designed to transform the voltage delivered from the wind farm into that suitable for distribution via the national grid transmission system.
3.15 The existing 400kV substation is located within a grass field used as grazing land, with a variety of overhead lines crossing the land and connecting to the substation. The proposed substation would occupy a maximum built area of approximately 9.5ha and a maximum total area of 13.4ha (including earthworks and access roads) located to the west of the existing substation on either side of the existing access road. The land use is currently a combination of arable and pasture.
3.16 Buildings, up to 14m in height, would be provided within the substation to accommodate equipment. Access to the substation would require relocation of the existing substation access road. The substation is anticipated to be un-manned during operation and is only likely to require lighting during visits.
3.17 A landscape strategy has been developed for the substation site in order to screen the development as far as practicable, together with providing ecological habitat. In addition, a number of existing overhead lines currently visible to the west of the existing substation would be buried underground as part of the project.
3.18 The offshore components and onshore substation for Atlantic Array may be installed in a single phase (1,200MW) or in up to three phases of smaller developments (approximately 400MW each). If the application for the development is successful, it is anticipated that construction would commence in 2016, although some works may commence earlier.
3.19 Offshore construction would commence in early 2017. A single build for the offshore wind farm (1,200MW) is anticipated to take up to 6 years to complete. If built in phases the total offshore construction period, from the start of installation of phase 1 to the end of the installation of phase 3, may be up to 11 years, and the gap between phases may be up to six years. The total time over which offshore construction would actually take place would remain the same, i.e. estimated at up to 6 years.
3.20 In the event that the Atlantic Array substation is built in a single phase, the duration for onshore construction is anticipated to be approximately three years. If the works are undertaken using a phased approach, each phase may take up to two years. It is possible that the construction phases for the substation may not be continuous (if the construction phases offshore are not continuous). The total duration (with potentially significant gaps between phases) may be up to 11 years. Construction works for the cable route (including HDD works) would be undertaken in a single phase.
4. The Application and Examination Process
4.1 The Planning Act 2008 provides the statutory planning framework and sets out that Offshore wind projects of greater than 100MW in capacity are classified as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) and as such there is a requirement to submit an application for development consent for the wind farm to the Planning Inspectorate rather than the Local Planning Authority.
4.2 The key stages in the process of the determination of the application are:
Pre-application where the applicant is to carry out the consultation with the local community and interested parties.
Acceptance of the Application by the Planning Inspectorate based on legal criteria including whether the applicant's consultation has been adequate.
Pre-Examination where interested parties/persons are able to make representations on the application and register as an interested party. After the close of the registration period a Preliminary Meeting will be held by the Examining Authority which will set out the timetable for the examination.
Examination the formal legal process during which consideration is given to the all of the relevant and important matters, including the representations of all interested parties.
The Examining Authority's recommendation and the Secretary of State's decision where the Secretary of State makes a decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.
4.3 At the pre-application stage the developer carried out extensive consultation and in 2012 submitted a draft Environmental Statement (ES). A report on the draft ES was considered by the Development Management Committee at their meeting on 5 September 2012 and Members resolved (minute *171 refers) that:
(a) the technical response from this Authority as set out in Report PTE/12/59 (together with the Addendum on Economic Indicators) be endorsed in respect of the necessary amendments and additions to the final Environmental Statement that will accompany the application for development consent that will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate;(b) Officers continue to work with RWE and its consultants in order to assist in the preparation of the final Environmental Statement; and (c) the Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment be requested to use his best endeavours to secure, in the event of development consent being granted for the proposal, the maximum overall social and economic benefits for the County as a whole, and in particular the affected local communities in northern Devon; (d) that the final response to be approved by the Chairman.
4.4 As part of the pre-application process Councillors from Devon County, North Devon District Council and Torridge District Council, supported by officers from each of the Authorities set up the Atlantic Array Joint Member Steering Group with the role of responding to the impacts and opportunities of the proposal, in a collective manner, to best meet the needs of northern Devon's communities.
4.5 Following the initial consultation, the developer carried out further Environmental Impact Assessment work and submitted the application to the Planning Inspectorate in July 2013 and the application has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate. The deadline for the registration of interested parties and initial representations closes on 16 September 2013. Following this date, the Preliminary Meeting will be held by the Examining Authority.
4.6 Devon County Council has an important role to play in the application process, firstly the Authority may come to a view on the application in terms of its recommendation to the Planning Inspectorate, and secondly by the production of a Local Impact Report (LIR) for consideration by the Examining Authority.
4.7 The LIR is defined as, 'report in writing giving details of the likely impact of the proposed development on the authority's area' and its content is a matter for the Council so long as it falls within this definition. The role of the LIR is the means by which the authority's local knowledge and evidence can be fully and robustly reported to the Examining Authority.
4.8 The LIR should consist of a statement of positive, neutral and negative local impacts, but does not need to contain a balancing exercise between the positives and negatives, as this is the role of the Examining Authority in the determination of the application. However, the LIR should assess the relative importance of different social, environmental and economic issues and give an assessment of the impact of the scheme on them.
4.9 The LIR also gives the Authority the opportunity to comment on the draft Development Consent Order (DCO) which contains the articles, requirements and obligations under which the proposal would be developed.
5. Planning Policy Considerations
5.1 In respect of DCO applications, Section 104 of the 2008 Act (as amended by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Localism Act 2011) states that:
'(2) In deciding the application the Secretary of State must have regard to
(a) any national policy statement which has effect in relation to development of the description to which the application relates (a "relevant national policy statement"),
(aa) any relevant marine policy document, determined in accordance with section 59 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009;
(b) any local impact report (within the meaning given by section 60(3))submitted to the Secretary of State before the deadline specified in a notice under section 60(2),
(c) any matters prescribed in relation to development of the description to which the application relates, and
(d) any other matters which the Secretary of State thinks are both important and relevant to the Secretary of State's decision.
(3) The Secretary of State must decide the application in accordance with any relevant national policy statement '
5.2 The relevant National Policy Statements (NPSs) to which the Secretary of State must have regard are; NPS EN1 - Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy; NPS EN-3 Renewable Energy Infrastructure; and, NPS EN-5 Electricity Networks Infrastructure.
5.3 NPS EN-1 sets out the Government's policy for the delivery of major energy infrastructure and supports the requirements of the Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament). The policy states that new projects are urgently needed in order to ensure that the UK's renewable energy target of sourcing 15% of its energy from renewable sources is met by 2020 (NPS EN-1, paragraph 3.4.1).
5.4 Offshore wind is expected to provide the largest single contribution towards the 2020 renewable energy generation targets (NPS EN-1, paragraph 3.4.3). In addition, NPS EN-1 identifies that about a quarter of the UK's generating capacity is due to close by 2018 and that new low carbon generation is required which is reliable, secure and affordable (NPS EN-1, paragraph 2.2.16). It also states that in the UK at least 22 GW of existing electricity generating capacity will need to be replaced in the coming years, particularly in the period to 2020 (NPS EN-1, paragraph 3.3.7).
5.5 NPS EN-1 establishes that, given the level of demand and urgency of the need for large scale energy infrastructure, the Secretary of State should start with a presumption in favour of granting a DCO for energy NSIPs unless more specific and relevant policies set out within the NPSs clearly indicate that consent should be refused (NPS EN-1, paragraph 4.1.2).
5.6 The two supporting relevant National Policies relate to infrastructure. NPS EN-3 recognises the need for 25 GW of new offshore wind-derived generating capacity in the UK Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) and the territorial waters of England and Wales (NPS EN-3, paragraph 2.6.15) by 2020. NPS EN-5 relates to applications for electricity network infrastructure. NPS EN-3 sets out that the onshore element of the grid connection, including electricity lines for transmission and substations should be determined in accordance with NPS EN-5 (NPS EN-3, paragraph 2.6.41).
5.7 Members will note that there is strong national policy support for offshore wind farm development such as the Atlantic Array. However, in coming to a view on the proposal the Examining Authority will need to come to a balanced view of whether the benefits of the proposal outweigh the adverse impacts.
5.8 In coming to a view the Examining Authority will make reference to relevant Development Plan Policies (in the North Devon and Torridge Local Plans) which are commented upon in the comments section of this report and summarised in Appendix I.
6. Devon County Council Areas of Interest
6.1 The ES submitted with the application is divided into two parts, Onshore and Offshore and the Offshore chapters provides detailed assessment on the following impacts:
Benthic Subtidal and Intertidal Ecology
Fish and Shellfish Ecology
Seascape, Landscape and Visual
Shipping and Navigation
Tourism and Recreation
Airborne Noise and Vibration
Other Marine Users
6.2 In terms of the offshore impacts, this Authority has an interest in the landscape and visual impacts of the proposal on the mainland of northern Devon and on Lundy Island and this will form part of LIR and this committee's comments on the application.
6.3 Whilst it is recognised that all of the offshore ES topics are important in the consideration of the application Members should note that there are specific consenting regimes for the offshore elements of the proposal. In particular the Marine Licence and Marine Coastal Access Act 2009 (which introduced new planning and management systems for the marine environment) means that the Atlantic Array would require a licence from the Marine Management Organisation. The DCO (which provides the consent for the proposal) would incorporate Marine Licence conditions, these being subject of consultation with statutory undertakers, namely the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
6.4 The offshore elements of the proposal are subject to Habitat Regulations Assessment and if a significant effect is predicted an Appropriate Assessment would need to be carried out by the Competent Authority, which is this case would be the Department for Energy and Climate Change. In cases where disturbance to Marine European Protected Species cannot be mitigated against (during construction, operation and decommissioning) the developer would need to obtain a European Protected Species licence from the MMO. This licencing process is separate to the DCO consenting regime.
6.5 The Energy Act 2004 permits the Secretary of State to designate safety zones which may exclude non wind farm vessels from navigating through designated areas during the construction, operational phase and decommissioning. Such an application for safety zones would be made separately to the main DCO application.
6.6 Members will note from the above that there are a number of areas where there are potentially significant impacts resulting from the construction and operation of the development where this Authority will not be directly involved (other than the visual impact of the proposal). Whilst this Authority will not be making representations on the majority of the offshore impacts Member can be assured that other statutory agencies and bodies such as the District Councils and Parish Councils, Natural England, English Heritage, Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation and Devon and Severn IFCA will be afforded the opportunity to make representations directly to the Inspectorate. Likewise affected landowners, non-statutory bodies and members of the public have been involved in the consultation process and have the opportunity to make representations to the Inspectorate.
6.7 In terms of the onshore impacts the following areas are assessed in the ES:
Landscape and Visual
Ecology and Nature Conservation
Hydrogeology, Geology and Ground Conditions
Hydrology and Flood Risk
Agricultural Land Use and Soils
Traffic and Transport
Noise and Vibration
Electric and Magnetic Fields
Cable route engineering
Drilling specialists Land and Marine
Alternative route options
6.8 In terms of the available expertise within the Authority, and how the proposal may impact on the interests of the Authority, it is considered that the following matters would be dealt with in the LIR and form the consultation response to the Planning Inspectorate on the application:
Onshore Traffic and Transportation
Socio -Economic Impact
Onshore Historic Environment Impacts
Onshore Nature Conservation Interests
6.9 It is considered that the interests set out above are the critical ones in terms of the interests of the County Council and Members are requested to agree these as forming the terms of reference of the LIR.
7.1 The comments section of the report aims to examine the parts of the development which have an impact on the identified areas of interest for Devon County Council.
Onshore Traffic and Transportation Implications
7.2 The ES provides details of the impact of the proposal on the Highway network during the construction phase, operational phase and decommissioning phase and examines the cumulative impacts on the highway network. The cable route, from the landing point at Cornborough and running to the new substation at Alverdiscott, will cross a number of roads, and in the case of minor roads would be require temporary road closures, but when crossing major roads on the strategic highway network (the A39) the cables would pass under the road with Horizontal Directional Drilling being used.
7.3 Major construction works are proposed at Alverdiscott with the provision of the new substation and this will result in increases in HGV traffic during the construction period as well as a number of larger vehicles carrying extraordinary loads, such as delivery of transformers to this site.
7.4 The ES provides details of the baseline traffic data for the area, including details of existing traffic flows, including an examination of traffic flows in the summer months. It also models the predicted traffic growth during the likely construction period, taking into account planned development in the Bideford area and impacts that the increase in construction traffic might have on development.
7.5 The environmental impacts of traffic are identified in the ES as being: noise and vibration; severance; driver delay (also delay to public transport users); pedestrian delay and amenity; dust and dirt; fear and intimidation; accidents and road safety; hazardous, dangerous and abnormal loads; and air quality. The ES examines these impacts in accordance with a standard methodology for the construction phase, operational phase and decommissioning phase, looking at the particular activity and assessing this against the sensitivity of the receptor; the likely impact; the time for the impact; the magnitude of the impact; significance of the impact; and whether this is a direct or indirect impact. In coming to a view on the impacts of the development the ES also looks at what mitigation can be put into place. In this case the ES recognises that there will be adverse impacts, particularly during the construction period, and proposes a number of measures to mitigate the impacts on the highway network. The implementation of the mitigation would be carried out through the adoption of a Code of Construction Practice which would include the following: Details of HGV routeing; Working Hours at the various sites; provision of wheel washing facilities; and measures to minimise dust and dirt. Further mitigation is proposed which would include a staff travel plan; signage strategy; traffic management plan; and structural survey of roads. In addition the application proposed the submission and approval of a Construction Environmental Management Plan, which would detail how the environmental impacts (including traffic impacts) would be managed.
7.6 The development would include some works to the highway, and these would include new junctions to temporary construction access routes; improved junctions onto the A39 and A386; and widening of some roads (including removal of hedgerows) to accommodate abnormal vehicle loads.
7.7 Torridge Local Plan Policy DVT18 relates to the impact of development on traffic. The policy states that 'All development must take into account its impact on the highway network in terms of traffic generated, highway safety, access, servicing, and the need to reduce travel and to encourage alternatives to the private car, incorporating appropriate facilities on-site or off-site where necessary.'
7.8 It is considered that the ES provides an accurate representation of the types of impacts and the magnitude of these impacts for the construction, operation and decommissioning phases of operations associated with the Atlantic Array. In summary, the development will result in a number of public highway routes being subject to increased traffic generation, with a number experiencing significant HGV increases. There will be disruption and increased journey times resulting from the required road closures, and site access provision, and these new accesses will likely increase the risk of collision from turning traffic.
7.9 Provided appropriate mitigation is provided Devon County Council as Highway Authority considers that the proposal is in accordance with Policy DVT22 and has no objection to the proposed development. In order to secure the necessary mitigation the Council will be providing evidence to the Examining Authority as part the Local Impact Report. This will include confirmation of the abnormal load route, the requirement for condition surveys of the vulnerable routes, requirement for the strengthening, repair and/or reconstruction of roads, provision of a Code of Construction Practice and provision of a Construction Environmental Management Plan. The mechanism for securing the mitigation measures will be by conditions in the Development Consent Order and necessary legal agreements.
7.10 There are a small number of issues where 3rd party land is required to provide safe junction and passing locations and it has not been included in the submission or in the Compulsory Purchase Order. This remains a matter of concern to the Highway Authority and will be raised during the examination process with the planning inspectorate.
Socio -Economic Impact
7.11 The ES considers the socio-economic effects of the proposal during the construction, operations and maintenance (O ) and decommissioning phases on regions surrounding both the north and south coast of the Bristol Channel. It considers socio-economic impacts in relation to a number of factors (relating to both southwest England which includes the Bristol area - and southwest Wales) including potential benefits in terms of employment and training opportunities; effects on tourism and recreation; and, impact of changing influx of workers. The ES considers the impact on economic conditions for the different phases (construction, O and decommissioning) in terms of direct economic impacts (jobs and Gross Value Added); indirect economic impacts (jobs and Gross Value Added from suppliers of goods and services); and, induced economic benefits (jobs and Gross Value Added by direct and indirect employee spending).
7.12 The ES also examines other socio-economic factors such as local residents accessing jobs; demand for housing; impact on the existing business sector (supply chains); impacts on other economic activity in the region (such as shipping and fishing); impacts on the tourist sector; and, disruption to businesses.
7.13 The key measures of economic impact are job creation and Gross Value Added (GVA) receptors and these are tested against four potential development scenarios (mainly construction techniques) and analysed against the magnitude and significance of the impacts based on the characteristics of the impact and the sensitivity of the receptor. In all of the development scenarios construction activity would not take place in northern Devon due to inadequate port facilities.
7.14 The summary and conclusion of the ES is set out below:
Construction employment and that in the supply chain. In southwest Wales and southwest England, all scenarios are expected to generate socio-economic impacts of minor beneficial significance. Regional level socio economic impacts range from minor beneficial significance in scenarios 1 to 3 in Wales and England. Scenario 4 is expected to be of moderate beneficial significance in southwest Wales and minor/moderate significance in southwest England (driven largely by the larger regional impact area in southwest England).
Gross Value Added (GVA) supported by construction activity. In Welsh local impact areas (apart from Swansea) scenarios 1 and 2 are expected to result in minor beneficial socio economic effects and scenarios 3 and 4 will result in minor/moderate effects. In Swansea, all scenarios will result in minor beneficial effects. Regionally, socio economic impacts of scenarios 1 to 3 will be of minor beneficial significance whilst scenario 4 will create a GVA impact of moderate/major significance. In southwest England, minor beneficial effects are expected in Bristol and North Devon under all scenarios, whilst the effects will be of minor/moderate significance in Torridge.
Access to construction related employment. Minor beneficial effects on all local impact areas are expected under each of the scenarios in both southwest Wales and southwest England.
Demand for houses and other local services. All scenarios are expected to result in effects of minor significance in both southwest Wales and southwest England.
Commercial fishing activity and associated economic value. Negligible socio economic impacts are expected in all impact areas.
Commercial shipping activity and associated economic value. Negligible socio economic impacts are expected in all impact scenarios.
During the O of the wind farm, the range of socio-economic impacts on each of the receptors is as summarised below:
Employment supported during the O of the wind farm. Impacts range from minor beneficial in local and regional impact areas in southwest England to moderate/major beneficial effects in local and regional impact areas in Wales.
Gross Value Added (GVA) supported by the O of the wind farm. Moderate/major beneficial effects are expected in all of the Wales local impact areas and minor beneficial effects in southwest Wales regional impact areas. Minor/moderate beneficial effects are expected in southwest England's local impact areas and minor beneficial effects in the region overall.
Access to operations related employment amongst local residents. In Wales, the development is expected to result in moderate beneficial effects whilst the socioeconomic effect in southwest England is expected to be of minor beneficial significance.
7.15 What this means for northern Devon is that the local employment impacts forecast in the ES related to the proposed development are small. Under all potential scenarios for the offshore construction phase of the project would be a maximum of 8 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs. For the operations and maintenance (O ) phase of the project a maximum of 18 and a minimum of 2 FTE jobs are predicted for the local labour market in Devon, with a total of between 14 and 32 FTE jobs across the whole of the South West, including Devon. Comparable figures for Wales for O are for 126 and 143 jobs, which would indicate this is the applicant's preferred or expected O location. Overall impacts on jobs created from onshore works i.e. cable route construction, are also likely to be relatively small.
7.16 Notwithstanding the evidence presented in the ES, O for the proposed Atlantic Array could feasibly take place at least in part, from ports such as Ilfracombe and Appledore. Whilst the applicant's employment forecast estimates the majority of O related jobs being in South Wales, Ilfracombe is the closest port to the Array and benefits from greater shelter than comparable South Wales ports, which would represent considerable fuel cost savings to operators over the lifetime of the proposed project. It is also considered that there are additional potential benefits of locating an O facility in northern Devon due to synergy with existing onshore wind farms in the area. However, to ensure that Ilfracombe could realistically benefit from O activity, some additional investment would be required. Both Ilfracombe and Appledore have been put forward as areas of potential opportunity with the Heart of the South West LEP.
7.17 The applicant has so far not made any commitments to the location of either the construction or O bases for the proposed Atlantic Array. Until such a commitment is made it is impossible to accurately compare net economic benefits with disbenefits for northern Devon related to the project. The employment and GVA forecasts within the ES remain hypothetical until such a commitment is made.
7.18 In terms of the impact on tourism, it is considered that the ES should have included specific reference to the 'South West Coast Path Monitoring and Evaluation Framework', published February 2013. This report links coastal landscape in the South West with economic benefit and an analysis of the impacts would provide a more balanced view of evidence in terms of the potential economic impacts on visitors and landscapes from the proposed project.
7.19 In terms of fishing vessel activity, there will be a restriction for vessels entering the construction safety zone and there will be some impact on some fish species due to disturbance which would be likely to have a minor negative impact in terms of reduced stocks.
7.20 Essentially the ES considers that that both the positive and negative economic impacts due to the construction and O of the Atlantic Array are likely to be minor so far as northern Devon is concerned.
7.21 There is the likelihood of a two stage Community Benefits Package for northern Devon: One a one-off payment of approximately 1m related to onshore cable route works; the other an on-going fund related to generation revenues, that is likely to be shared with South Wales and continues for the generating lifetime of the project. The calculation methodology of the on-going package has yet to be released by RWE. Devon County Council Officers, together with those from North Devon and Torridge District Councils have made strong representations to RWE expressing a desire to mitigate any potential disbenefits from the proposed Atlantic Array, by the allocation of a very significant proportion of any generation revenues to northern Devon. The method for allocation of these funds is yet to be decided. There is no commitment that should the project be sold to another developer, the initial 1m package related to onshore works would continue.
7.22 The ES provides an assessment of the likely significant effects on seascape and landscape character, historic seascape character and terrestrial heritage assets and the effects on visual receptors arising from the project. The principal objectives of the assessment are:
To describe, classify and evaluate the existing seascape and landscape and the historic seascape likely to be affected by the proposal during its construction, operational and decommissioning phases;
To identify visual receptors with views of the proposed scheme;
To identify terrestrial heritage assets that have the potential to be affected by the proposed scheme; and
To identify the likely significant effects on seascape (including historic seascape), landscape and views, and indirect effects, or effects on setting of terrestrial heritage assets, taking into account measures proposed to reduce or avoid any effects identified.
7.23 The methodology employed in the ES for the Seascape, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (SLVIA) appears to follow national best practice guidelines, describing the seascape/landscape sensitivity, the visual sensitivity; the magnitude of change; and, significance of impacts. It highlights that parts of the North Devon AONB, Lundy Island and the South West Coast Path would experience significant adverse landscape and visual effects, including on the setting of Lundy Island as a heritage asset, and including cumulative effects alongside other windfarm development in North Devon.
7.24 These negative effects on the wild, remote and unspoilt natural beauty, undeveloped character and coastal setting of valued and protected landscapes in Devon are of great concern given the way in which these places are valued and enjoyed by people, and the extent of effects in Devon.
7.25 Whilst it is acknowledged that the EIA process has brought about a reduction in the number and extent of turbines as compared to the initial Atlantic Array scheme, the residual landscape and visual impacts predicted in Devon remain significant and adverse. This is of serious concern. In addition, the Authority has cause to consider that certain aspects of the SLVIA may not be fully relied upon and there are remaining concerns centred around:
adequacy in conveying the very worst case landscape and visual effects;
the accuracy of photomontages; and
why significant effects matters to people (including secondary effects on the quality of Devon's tourist offer and quality of life for residents)
7.26 Torridge Local Plan PoliciesENV1 (Conservation), ENV6 (Protection of Designated Landscapes) and ENV7 (Sites of Nature Conservation Importance) are relevant in the consideration of this proposal and these policies seek to protect sites such as Lundy Island from development which would damage landscape interests. Given the above it is considered that the Atlantic Array is contrary to the provision of these policies.
7.27 North Devon Local Plan Policy ENV2 (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) seeks to protect the designated area from development that conflicts with the natural beauty of the area and it is considered that this proposal is contrary to the provision of this policy.
Onshore Historic Environment Impacts (excluding effect on Heritage Coast- see under landscape and visual impact)
7.28 The onshore elements of the scheme involve significant excavation works, both as part of the trenching operations and the construction of the electricity substation at Alverdiscott which have impacts on the historic environment, particularly in terms of archaeology. The ES sets out the results of a Desk-Based Archaeological Assessment, a Geophysical Survey and a programme of Archaeological Evaluation Trenching which had been undertaken in consultation with the Devon Historic Environment Team in advance of submission of the application.
7.29 The ES concludes that the assessment and evaluation work has identified likely significant permanent impacts upon buried archaeological deposits during construction of the cable route and the direct drilling works. This Authority considers that this conclusion is appropriate.
7.30 Torridge Local Plan policy ENV2 applies to development that would have an impact on historic buildings and structures. Policy ENV4 of the Local Plan seeks to preserve archaeology within the District. However, as the impacts can be adequately mitigated by implementation of a programme of archaeological recording in advance of and during construction, followed by the dissemination of the results of the investigation in appropriate formats, and the appropriate archiving of the archaeological record, there is considered to be no objection on archaeological grounds. This programme of work should be carried out in accordance with a written scheme of investigation (method statement) drawn up in consultation with the Devon Historic Environment Team. This matter will be considered in more detail in the LIR and the requirements would be secured by appropriate conditions in the Development Consent Order.
Onshore Nature Conservation Interests
7.31 Given the number of organisations involved in the terrestrial ecological issues (Natural England, Devon Wildlife Trust, North Devon Biosphere Reserve staff). The authority has not commented on this aspect of the proposal, Devon County Council and Natural England agreed that the authority would defer to Natural England's comments and provide comment if there were significant concerns.
7.32 At the time of writing Natural England has no outstanding concerns regarding the terrestrial aspects of the proposal. However, the key issues relate to; the permanent loss of hedges at the substation; significant short term impacts on hedges along the cable route; and, associated impacts on dormice (a European Protected Species). There will be no adverse impacts on the Mermaid's Pool to Rowden Gut SSSI or on the Taw Torridge Estuary SSSI.
7.33 The mitigation, compensation or enhancement already proposed is as follows; hedges along the cable route will be reinstated following best practice; the metric for the voluntary North Devon Offsetting Pilot has been applied to ecological losses; a compensation package has been agreed which will result in a net gain for wildlife; mitigation is in place to reduce/avoid disturbance to birds using the Taw Torridge Estuary SSSI. These mitigation measures reference in the Development Consent Order and secured in the Construction Environmental Management Plan which would have to be agreed by Torridge District Council prior to the commencement of the development.
7.34 A Natural England licence is required due to impacts on dormice and all mitigation and monitoring details will be also be set out in the Construction Environment Management Plan.
8. Reasons for Recommendation/Alternatives Options Considered
8.1 One of the roles of Devon County Council in the determination of the application is as a consultee, and part (a) of the recommendation to this report will form the representations of this Committee to the Planning Inspectorate.
8.2 The second role of Devon County Council is to provide the Examining Authority with a Local Impact Report and the Examining Authority is obliged to have regard to it in deciding the application. Part (b) of the recommendation to this report seeks authorisation for officers to prepare the Local Impact Report for approval by cabinet prior to the Examination of the application.
8.3 This application will be decided by the Secretary of State who take into account all material considerations and will need to come to a balanced view of whether the adverse impacts of the development outweigh the benefits. It is considered that the views expressed by this Committee together with the preparation of the Local Impact Report will assist the Secretary of State in his determination of the application.
Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment
Electoral Divisions: All, in particular Bideford South & Hartland; Fremington Rural; Braunton Rural; Combe Martin Rural; Northam; Ilfracombe; and Bideford East
Local Government Act 1972: List of Background Papers
Contact for enquiries: Mike Deaton
Room No: ABG, County Hall
Tel No: 01392 382130
sc/cr/atlantic array offshore wind farm
03 hq 020913
Department of Energy and Climate Change National Policy Statements (2011): Policies EN 1 (Overarching UK Energy Infrastructure Policy); EN-3 (Renewable Energy Infrastructure); and EN-5 (Electricity Networks Infrastructure).
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
North Devon Local Plan (Adopted July 2006): Policy ENV02 (The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Torridge District Local Plan (Adopted September 2004): Policies DVT02 (Development at rural settlements); DVT02C (Development in the open countryside); DVT07 (Building Design); DVT08 (Landscaping); DVT13 (Noise emission and disturbance); DVT14 (Areas at risk); DVT18 (Impact of development on traffic); DVT22 (Lines, pipes, and cables); ENV01T (Conservation interest); ENV02T (Development affecting historic buildings and settlements); ENV04T (Archaeological preservation); ENV05T (Countryside protection and landscape conservation); and ENV06T (Designated landscape areas); ENV7 (Protection of important nature conservation interests).
North Devon and Torridge Local Plan (Consultation Draft January 2013): Policies ST01 (Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development); ST02 (Principles of Sustainable Development); ST03 (Adapting to Climate Change); ST04 (Improving the Quality of Development); ST05 (Sustainable Construction and Buildings); ST09 (Coast and Estuary Strategy); ST11 (Enhancing Environmental Assets); ST12 (Conserving Heritage Assets); ST13 (Delivering Renewable Energy and Heat); DM01 (Amenity Considerations); DM02 (Environmental Protection); DM03 (Construction and Environmental Management); and DM05 (Design Principles).
The Crown Estate is the landowner out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, and has the rights under the Energy Act 2004 to issue licences for offshore wind development beyond the territorial waters limit and within the UK Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). A lease from The Crown Estate is required in order to construct an offshore wind farm.
 DECC (2009) UK Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment - Future Leasing for Offshore Wind Farms and Licensing for Offshore Oil & Gas and Gas Storage, Environmental Report.
DECC (2011) UK Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment 2 - Future Leasing/Licensing for Offshore Renewable Energy, Offshore Oil & Gas, Hydrocarbon Gas and Carbon Dioxide Storage and Associated Infrastructure, Environmental Report.