......but offshore, using wind, was the topic that Laura Gatdula, an independant environmental consultant working in the field, covered in her talk to Coastwise members.
She was careful to point out that her expertise lies in assembling the Environmental Impact Statements that are a statutory requirement in an application, and that and she has no connection with the proposed Whitecross development, other than being a concerned Braunton resident. However, she was able to comment on some aspects of the conceptual design as an informed member of the public.
Laura pointed out that some of the national environmental targets are aspirational, with no clear path to achievement in the timescale defined.
To some extent this is a consequence of the practical difficulties and time required to get through the various stages of any project. Simply obtaining approval can take 5-6 years, and construction up to 8 years due to the difficulty of matching manufacturing capacity to demand, with uncertain economics.
Even so, there is 14GW of generating capacity in place, with 5 developments under construction and 7 consented. It's important to note that this capacity is only achieved for a very small proportion of time, leading to the requirement for backup capacity from other sources to compensate for low wind speeds. This means that the publicly quoted economics of wind power are always far too optimistic, as they ignore this backup, and ususally idle, requirement.
She pointed out that the reception in the local communities affected can be vary different, as the so-called 'Consultation' is statutory, and can be quite minimal, while 'Engagement' is not statutory, but can have a major beneficial effect on acceptance by a community.
Laura's slides were clear and professional and covered the full process of bringing a wind farm to production.