Protesters' final push to 'slay the array'
More than 100 residents opposed to one of the largest green energy projects of its kind in Europe marched through the streets of Barnstaple ahead of a fiery public meeting on Saturday.
If built, the £3 billion Atlantic Array project would see up to 240 turbines placed in a huge wind farm just under ten miles off the North Devon coast.
The plans are currently being considered by the Planning Inspectorate, and the parade and then meeting were organised to raise awareness about the end of the public consultation period, on September 16.
The Slay the Array opposition group led the parade on Saturday morning, marching through Barnstaple High Street, handing out leaflets giving advice on how to register interest in the consultation.
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However, the public meeting which followed was marred by a heated confrontation between a former UKIP councillor and a supporter of the array project.
The incident saw UKIP's Mike Pagram verbally confront the supporter, following a number of interruptions during the meeting, before the man was ejected from the meeting.
Despite the interruption, the event at the Park Hotel saw leaders of the campaign put across their case for opposing the plans.
Group spokesman Steve Crowther said the aim of the day was to increase awareness of the plan in North Devon, which he said will reach a critical point in two weeks' time.
He said: "My objections focus on one thing in particular: not there.
"Whatever you think of wind energy, this is the wrong place to put it and I think that's what we have to make absolutely clear."
North Devon Conservative candidate Peter Heaton-Jones, who announced he was to join the campaign last week, told the crowds to maintain their opposition.
He said: "This is about the Atlantic Array being the wrong plan in the wrong place.
"This isn't a massive movement against renewable energy. This is about us being sure that this is the wrong plan.
"If you don't register your interest now, you lose your right forever to have your say on this project."
Torridge district councillor Jane Whittaker said that events like the one being held were vital in raising the public's awareness of the project.
She said: "I would just like to be sure that everybody understands what is ahead of them. I just worry that so many people don't truly understand the implications of this project.
"I've always said that this is a game of two halves – if this project goes forward we need to get every ounce of benefit from it that we can."
Since they were introduced the plans have sparked significant concerns on both the Devon and Welsh coasts, ten miles away, as well as on Lundy Island. Opponents have said the scheme would "destroy" the island as a refuge for wildlife and visitors. Major objections have been lodged against the scheme, including from the National Trust.