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Tiverton and Honiton Liberal Democrats

Statement on RWE's decision to drop plans for Atlantic Array

November 26, 2013 12:02 PM

Commenting on the announcement that developer RWE has abandoned plans for the Atlantic Array, North Devon MP Nick Harvey said:

"Today's news certainly comes as a shock after so much investment had gone into the Atlantic Array project to date.

"The detailed engineering surveys pointed to rising costs. It is baffling that Admiralty charts seem to have underestimated the water depths; and the findings on the rock structure of the sea bed suggested that the turbines would have to be mounted in enormous concrete blocks sitting on the sea bed, rather than being drilled into the rock. All this had cost implications.

"There will be huge relief in some of the communities most affected. But we must recognise that the project has not been 'defeated' in planning terms. The planning issues remain untested.

"Anyone proclaiming that they have secured a 'victory' risks being found guilty of hubris. There is still a lot of wind out in the Bristol Channel and another developer with a different technological solution could come back and try again in years to come.

"The critical factor here is that the German parent company is facing serious financial difficulties in the German and central European energy markets, and is making dramatic cuts in its German investment programmes. The Array was becoming an increasingly tricky investment for them to shoulder.

"But RWE have not taken this decision lightly and it demonstrates the tough climate for energy investors. It also shows vividly the danger of Britain relying on the big six energy companies - and overseas utility companies - to make the crucial investment decisions for our future energy generation and climate change targets. If more utilities start pulling out of major energy projects the Government may have to join industry in a co-investment/co-development approach in order to give us more control over our future energy supply.

"We may never know what we have lost out on in economic benefits, as these would only have become clear at the construction and operations stage. But I dearly hope that the potential of tidal energy off our coastline will be exploited in the future and that some economic benefit will accrue from that."