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. Of the 11 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.
“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 they 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 ensuring that they are adequately marked with proper hazard marking and lighting and take into account underwater keel clearance”
Press Release, July 10, 2014