The Crown Estate, manager of the UK seabed, has announced that it has agreed seabed rights for six new wave and tidal current demonstration zones and five new wave and tidal current sites around the UK. While this news centres on a problem in England, it provides a heads up on what could happen in your own cruising waters in years to come, as a range of marine energy sources are explored.
Tidal current Strangford Lough.
Of the 12 zones and sites announced the RYA is particularly concerned with plans to place a further tidal current installation in Strangford Lough.
Stuart Carruthers RYA Cruising Manager: 'We made it clear in our response to the consultation phase that the RYA does not believe that this area is suitable for a demonstration development. Further tidal current installations will compound navigational problems for legitimate users of the sea.
Tidal wave development sites final zones - Further tidal current installation in Strangford Lough will increase hazard to navigation
'Recreational boaters are already having difficulty navigating safely with the combination of the SeaGen Tidal Turbine which is very much a surface piercing hazard (particularly when the beam is raised) and the Routen Wheel, a nearby area of whirlpools and overfalls. Any further devices will only compound the problem'.
The site is located in ‘the Narrows’, the tricky entrance to and exit from Strangford Lough, with the tidal flows in the entrance reaching speeds of up to 7.5 knots at springs. In strong onshore winds breaking seas can extend well over a mile SE of the entrance. Even in much calmer conditions standing waves may be encountered.
The Crown Estate believes the provision of additional seabed rights is a necessary step forward in ‘enabling further technology development and commercialisation’, which they say will be ‘critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for wave and tidal energy.’
'We are satisfied that our comments have been addressed in the selection of the other zones and sites. However, we will be working to ensure that the installations are sensitively located in order not to block or restrict traditional navigation routes where tidal currents are utilised for safe and efficient passage making, such as around the Mull of Galloway and Portland Bill' says Stuart.
'And that they are adequately marked with proper hazard marking and lighting and take into account underwater keel clearance'
You can read more on the RYA’s position on tidal and wave energy at RYA website.
Any projects must go through the statutory planning process, including stakeholder and community consultation, gaining consent from relevant planning authorities before any development can take place.
Project sites and demonstration zones announced
|Location||Project Sites/organisation||Demonstration Sites/organisation|
|England||Portland Bill (tidal current, 30MV) Siemens MCT||North Cornwall (wave) Wave HubNorth Devon (tidal current) Wave HubSouth Pembrokeshire (wave) Wave Hub|
|Northern Ireland||Strangford Lough (tidal current 20MV) Siemens MCT||-|
|Scotland||Stronsay Firth (tidal current, managed test facility, 20MV) EMECMull of Galloway (tidal current, 30MV) Siemens MCT||Isle of Harris (wave) EMECIslay (tidal current) EMEC|
|Wales||Holyhead Deep (tidal current, 10MV) Minesto||West Anglesey (tidal current) Menter Môn|