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.
Demonstration sites announced include: North Cornwall Wave Hub, North Devon Wave Hub, South Pembrokeshire Wave Hub in England; the Isle of Harris and Islay in Scotland 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
North Cornwall; Wave demonstration zone
- North Devon; Tidal stream demonstration zone
- South Pembrokeshire; Wave demonstration zone
- Dorset, Portland Bill; Tidal stream project site
- Northern Ireland, Strangford Lough; Tidal stream project site
- Scotland, Mull of Galloway; Tidal stream project site
- Scotland, Isle of Harris; Wave demonstration zone
- Scotland, Islay; Tidal stream demonstration zone
- Scotland, Stronsay Firth; Tidal stream managed test facility project
- Wales,West Anglesey; Tidal stream demonstration zone
- 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.
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.’
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.