Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) believe that climate change poses a major threat to recreational water users, the marine environment and the global environment as a whole, and agrees that action needs to be taken to combat it. SAS supports the advancement of renewable energy sources, but will examine each new development on a case-by case basis in order to assess any potential negative impacts on coastal environments, surfing resources and recreation.
The Atlantic Array is a proposed wind farm in the Bristol Channel. If the Atlantic Array is to be developed it would sit inside an area of approximately 414 square kilometres. Inside that expansive sea area there could be a maximum of 417 3.6 MW or 188 larger 8MW turbines. These would be spread out throughout the proposed area (see map) If the developers choose the turbine option with the largest overall footprint, the 3.6 MW turbines, the total seabed footprint of all the turbines would represent 0.14% of the Atlantic Array’s 414 square kilometre area – a sixth the size of Lundy Island (off the North Devon coast). The option with the smallest overall footprint is 0.05% of the total Atlantic Array area and would fit on Lundy Island 19 times over. (Figures are awaiting verification with the AA team as they have some inconsistencies in their online data). The developers claim the Atlantic Array could power up to 1.1 million homes with sustainable energy.
To date, there is no evidence that offshore wind farms interfere with the size or shape of waves used for surfing. However, the majority of wind farms have been substantially smaller than the Atlantic Array proposal. So to ere on the side of caution Surfers Against Sewage is waiting to hear the outcome of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and other important investigations before making a final judgment on any potential for impact on wave quality or size. SAS will work with the facts to reinforce the surfing community’s credibility and ensure surfers’ concerns are taken seriously.
The proposed wind farm does sit in the swell corridor for South Wales. The proposed site is 16km away from the South Wales coast and 14 km from the North Devon coast. According to Magic Seaweed (MSW), due to the positioning of the Atlantic Array, there should be no impact on the North Devon surfing climate. Further studies are necessary to confirm MSW’s findings.
In early 2011, SAS met with the developers to discuss our concerns and provided them with printed copies of two pertinent SAS reports – Waves Are Resources (WAR) Report and the Guidance on Environmental Impact Assessment of Offshore Renewable Energy Development on Surfing Resource and Recreation. We were encouraged to see the developers had brought their own copies of both SAS reports to our meeting and assured us they would use them to guide their work.
We outlined our concerns about the potential disruption of swell and sediment for the South Wales coast and our requests for independent investigations on these concerns were accepted. We also suggested the developers contacted the Welsh Surfing Federation.
Since that initial meeting SAS has brought the Atlantic Array consultants together with representatives from the Welsh Surfing Federation and the Porthcawl West Coast Surf Club (PWCS). United, we reiterated the surfing communities concerns over the Atlantic Array and the consultants are currently devising parameters for the investigation into the potential impacts on the surf. SAS directors Dr Tony Butt and Steve Challinor will scrutinize the developer’s data and SAS, the WSF and the PWCS will feedback on these parameters before any modeling is undertaken.
We have previously encouraged and promoted surfers involvement within the stakeholder engagement process. The engagement process is currently closed. However, there will be further opportunities for engagement and feedback which SAS will promote (Facebook, twitter, this website and the water sports media.)
We have been told that the draft environmental statement is due to be published in the second quarter of 2012. There is then a 42 day period to submit comments. SAS will submit comments and will actively encourage other interested parties to do the same. The final Environmental Statement and the application for the Atlantic Array will be made in the 4th quarter of 2012. (The EIA started in 2009, is currently ongoing, and will be completed before the draft Environmental Statement is published.)
If the EIA identifies a significant negative impact on the surf and/or the beach environment then we will try to work with the developers to eliminate the impact. If this proves unsuccessful we could actively campaign against the Atlantic Array. However, it’s important to note that SAS will not take a stance on any perceived ‘visual impact’.
SAS Response To Draft Environmental Statement.
If you have any more concerns and would appreciated talking to a member of the campaigns team please call 01872 555950.