'Further tidal current installation in Strangford Lough will increase hazard to navigation', says RYA

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.

Project sites announced include: Portland Bill, England; Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland; Stronsay Firth and the Mull of Galloway in Scotland; and Holyhead Deep in Wales.

Demonstration sites announced include: North Cornwall Wave Huband North

Devon Wave Hub in England; the Isle of

Harris and Islay in Scotland; South Pembrokeshire Wave Hub and West Anglesey in Wales.

It marks the first time that the Crown Estate will enable locally-based organisations to manage and

sub-let parts of the seabed to a range of wave and tidal stream

developers.

Rob Hastings, Crown Estate director of energy and infrastructure, said: ‘By

providing these additional seabed rights we are pleased to be enabling

further technology development and commercialisation, which will be

critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for

wave and tidal current energy.

‘This innovative approach to leasing the seabed sees us responding to

market demand and introducing managed demonstration zones to give other

organisations the opportunity to lend tangible support in their local

areas.’

Greg Barker, Minister for energy and climate change said: ‘Today’s

announcement is a great step for the development of wave and tidal

stream industries. Wave and tidal stream are growing green, clean energy

sources which have the potential to sustain thousands of jobs in a

sector worth, from exports alone, a possible £4billion per annum by

2050.’

The locations for the demonstration zones and project sites include

three off the coast of England, four off the coast of Scotland, one in

Northern Ireland and three off the coast of Wales. 

Organisation – Location – Zone type/project name

Wave Hub:

North Cornwall; Wave demonstration zone

North Devon; Tidal stream demonstration zone

South Pembrokeshire; Wave demonstration zone

Siemens MCT:

Dorset, Portland Bill; Tidal stream project site

Northern Ireland, Strangford Lough; Tidal stream project site

Scotland, Mull of Galloway; Tidal stream project site

EMEC:

Scotland, Isle of Harris; Wave demonstration zone

Scotland, Islay; Tidal stream demonstration zone

Scotland, Stronsay Firth; Tidal stream managed test facility project

Menter Môn:

Wales,West Anglesey; Tidal stream demonstration zone

Minesto:

Wales; Holyhead Deep, tidal stream project site

The Crown Estate launched the wave and tidal current leasing process

in October 2013 and these new demonstration zones are in areas specially

chosen by The Crown Estate for their suitability for test and

demonstration activities.

With this leasing process now complete, the next stage is for the

demonstration zone managers to start to attract developers for the zones

and to undertake further work, such as gathering environmental data

that can help developers with the consenting process.

RYA concerns

Of the 12 zones and sites announced the Royal Yachting Association has raised ‘particular concerns’ about plans to place a further tidal current installation in Strangford Lough.
 
Stuart Carruthers, RYA cruising manager, said: ‘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.
 
‘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.

He added: ‘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.

‘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 here.
 
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.

Images credited to: The Crown Estate