Reaction to controversial schemes

A windfarm in Poole Bay? A tidal barrage across the Severn estuary? Are these and other schemes proposed around the UK coast just pie in the sky, or should we be worried?

The RYA say there are risks to leisure boaters associated with such massive alternative energy schemes, including over collisions, the possible hampering of rescues and the cutting off of popular and safe cruising routes.

The association have been talking to Government over such schemes since 2001 in terms of all offshore energy development in UK waters.

They say: “While the RYA is supportive of the Government’s efforts to promote renewable energy, we are keen to ensure the navigational safety of recreational boating around the coast.

“Through a proactive approach we have secured general acceptance of a minimum rotor clearance height for wind farm developments and seen adaptations to specific developments to ensure safe passage for small craft, however there are still some concerns that needed to be addressed.”

The RYA’s main concerns relate to:

· Navigational Safety – for example collision risks, emergency response, weather

· Location – loss of cruising routes, squeeze in to commercial routes

· End of Life – dereliction, decommissioning

· Consultation.

Dr Susie Tomson, RYA Planning and Environmental Advisor, says: “We have responded to the Department’s strategic environmental assessment of Round 3 offshore wind developments outlining our concerns to ensure that the rights of the recreational boating community are considered.”

The RYA has also looked closely into plans for specific sites, she adds.

“Whilst there are areas we can see potential for development to go ahead safely, there are sites such as Poole Bay where we are unconvinced that any part of the area identified could be safely developed.”

The tidal power proposals for the Severn Estuary are in phase one consultation, to which the RYA have advised of its concerns.

“At this stage we have advised how each of the 5 proposals would impacts on recreational boating both in terms of loss of amenity and navigational safety,” they say.

In January the Department of Energy and Climate Change unveiled a shortlist of five schemes to generate tidal power from the Severn estuary.

The barrage idea was included in the list but a final decision is some way off.

The projected cost of the barrage is £20.9 billion but opponents fear this will rise still further.

Friends of the Earth, the RSPB and the Bristol-ports-backed Stop the Barrage Now campaign have all expressed their disappointment that the Severn barrage scheme was included in the shortlist.

Stop the Barrage Now admit: “Without the Government providing a favoured option it is difficult to produce a technical appraisal of its positive and negative implications on the leisure boating community.

“A perhaps more important point is that the water level upstream
would be reduced.

“Many leisure boaters use the incoming tide to allow passage to Gloucester. If this is halved, perhaps it would be impossible to use that navigation apart from in a small craft.

“The other issue is leisure craft’s using the proposed locks. We presume priority would be given to large commercial vessels and sharing a sea lock with one would be hairy.

“This could also cause delays that would bring complications and the possibility of missing tides.

“In the longer term, silting would be an issue.

“The continual deposition would mean the head pond getting shallower year on year.

“Again this would affect draught. The build up of mud around jetties, piers and slipways could affect access.”