A new tidal power scheme in Northern Ireland could increase hazards to navigation, the RYA has claimed

Plans to install a tidal power system in the Strangford Lough area of Northern Ireland could increase navigational hazards, according to the RYA.

The association raised this concern after the Crown Estate announced that seabed rights have been agreed for 11 new wave and tidal current project sites and demonstration zones around the UK.

Other sites included in the announcement were Portland Bill, Stronsay Firth, Mull of Galloway and Holyhead Deep.

But the proposed Siemens MCT project site at Strangford Lough was singled out by the RYA for particular attention due to its proximity to the SeaGen Tidal Turbine and the Routen wheel.

Stuart Carruthers, cruising manager at the RYA, said: “Further tidal current installations will compound navigational problems for legitimate users of the sea.

“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.

“And that they are adequately marked with proper hazard marking and lighting and take into account underwater keel clearance.”

Strangford Lough is particularly tricky for boatowners to navigate, due to tidal flows of up to 7.5 knots and strong onshore winds, the RYA added.

However, the Crown Estate argued that opening up the seabed rights in this way is “critical if the UK is to unlock its significant natural resources for wave and tidal energy”.

Any progress on tidal power planning will be subject to the statutory planning process, including a local community consultation stage.