Torridge council asked to make U-turn on Atlantic Array decision
TORRIDGE District Council could make a U-turn on their initial decision to make no objection to the plans for one of the world’s biggest off shore wind farms.
At a special meeting of the district council’s plans committee on Tuesday, September 10, it was decided not to object to the Atlantic Array.
The decision was swayed by one vote.
But now one of the councillors on the plans committee, who voted against it, is hoping to counter the plans committee decision by encouraging the whole council to object to the wind farm.
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Councillor Chris Leather has put a motion of notice forward for the district council’s full council meeting on Monday for councillors not to support the wind farm.
The Atlantic Array wind farm would consist of up to 240 turbines reaching 220 metre in height.
It is proposed to be built 16km off the North Devon coast in the Bristol Channel.
Mr Leather was left outraged by the outcome of last week’s meeting and hopes his motion will give councillors an opportunity to speak about it further.
He said: “I decided to make the motion as soon as the meeting had finished.
“It was a complete farce. I proposed we object to the wind farm and Councillor Margaret Brown seconded that but it was never voted on.
“I questioned the solicitor Ken Miles on this but he said we voted on Phil Collins’ motion, which was an amendment of mine, but it wasn’t.
“It was a very strange plans committee. North Devon’s decision the following day to object to it made us look stupid.
“This will give us the opportunity to have a full and frank discussion on the Array and the wider issues, not just planning matters.
“We have been promised nothing from developers RWE and I think we should be asking for £1 million a year if it goes ahead.
“The public have a right to know what the councillors think as it is the biggest issue to come to Torridge.”
The Planning Inspectorate, who will be deciding on the wind farm application, confirmed equal weight would be given to any factual evidence submitted to them by local authorities, whether it is from a plans committee or full council.
But Torridge District Council has made clear Councillor Chris Leather’s notice of motion to oppose the Atlantic Array wind farm might not result in a decision.
Jenny Wallace, the head of paid service at the district council, said: “If Councillor Leather moves the motion and it is seconded, then under our standing orders, a vote is taken on whether to pass the motion to the appropriate committee.
“The standing orders make clear that no discussion can take place at full council.
“However, members can take a decision to waive standing orders if they choose which would enable a discussion to take place at full council. More than half the members must vote in favour of a waiver.
“If the motion is ultimately supported, it will not revoke the plans committee resolution as that was validly made and has been submitted to the Secretary of State, but the council may draft a second letter or representation. Ultimately it’s up to members to decide.
“There is nothing unusual with the voting at the plans committee.
“Mr Leather put forward a motion and there was then a subsequent amendment motion put forward. The amendment is always voted on first and if this is passed, the substantive motion is the original motion as amended.”
Penny Mills, the chair of the Torridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “I agree with Chris Leather.
“Torridge District Council are a consultee and their response to what must be the most significant development in living memory in the area, with far reaching and long term ramifications, surely should be decided by full council.
“It is not a planning application to be decided by the plans committee.”