Image credit: Mat Hammond
Rampion offshore wind farm could reduce wave height by 22%
You can download the SAS Rampion response on draft environmental statement
Surfers Against Sewage 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. Surfers Against Sewage 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 Rampion Offshore Wind Farm is a proposed wind farm in the English Channel. If the Rampion proposal is to be developed it would sit inside an area of approximately 167 square kilometres. Inside that expansive sea area there could be a maximum of 195 three MW turbines. These would be spread out throughout the proposed area. The developers claim the Rampion proposal could power up to 450,000 homes with sustainable energy.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is extremely concerned with E-ON’s Draft Environmental Statement identifying potentially significant negative impacts on wave height of up to -22% at Brighton Marina and surf spots to the east of the city, which are some of the country’s most popular and well established surfing beaches. This potential reduction would be an unacceptable level to SAS and the local surfing community.
Surfing and other wave-related sports (stand up paddle (SUP) boarding, kite surfing, wind surfing and kayaking) are incredibly popular in Brighton, and along the south coast. Even though this stretch of coastline generally receives low quality surf, it is of high importance to a vast number of people and the local community. These high value/low quality waves are also more sensitive to changes.
The mitigating action proposed in the Draft Environmental Statement, table 19-10: Summary of Residual Effects and Mitigation Measures is “Consultation with stakeholder groups. No other mitigation proposed.” This is unacceptable. Consulting stakeholder groups about a significant reduction in wave height and therefore wave quality is not mitigation. It will do nothing to reduce the significant impact on the wave height expected in Brighton and along the south coast. Surfers Against Sewage have called for more information on how altering the turbine layout, size, numbers, placement, anchorage and any other mitigating actions could help reduce the potential negative impacts on surfing wave height.
Surfers Against Sewage has requested urgent discussions with E-ON to discuss the projected impacts on the surfing wave resource, associated socio-economic ramifications and to identify meaningful mitigating actions to safeguard Brighton’s surfing assets.
Surfers Against Sewage is also concerned that the impacts of a 22% reduction in wave height have not been investigated in the socio-economic studies within the Draft Environmental Statement. Participants in surfing and other surf related sports help support a variety of businesses along the south coast. Obviously surf shops, surf school and surf related businesses could be directly impacted by a loss of surfing days, as could hotels and B&Bs, cafes and restaurants. There is evidence to suggest that surfers spend 8% more than the average coastal visitor. SAS’s Waves Are Resources Report (2010) details how surfers spending habits help support the wider community. The Waves Are Resources report has been repeatedly referenced within the Draft Environmental Statement in relation to the quality of Brighton & south coast surfing waves, however, E-ON has completely failed to reference socio-economic information or undertake any further research in this area. A 22% reduction in wave height has the potential to cause a loss of surf related jobs in the affected areas.
Surfing is also of significant social and cultural importance along the south coast, nowhere more so than in Brighton itself.
Again SAS has requested an urgent meeting with E-ON to discuss these omissions from the Draft Environmental Statement and establish what remedial action will be implemented.
Surfers Against Sewage has contacted the Planning Inspectorate to be registered as an interested party when the Environmental Statement is submitted. This will ensure that when E-ON submit their final Environmental Statement in December 2012 SAS will be a recognised stakeholder and be best placed to officially represent water users on this development.
Note: SAS will not take a stance on any perceived ‘visual impact’ of wind turbines.