Fears that yachts may foul underwater tide-activated turbine blades have been expressed by the RYA, as the Crown Estate give the green-light for such projects.
The yachting body is concerned that no proper planning permission has been sought which would consider the impact on safe navigation.
Sites for the proposed turbines include the English Channel, Orkney and Strangford Loch. The Isle of Wight Council will develop a managed testing facility, called the Solent Ocean Energy Centre which will be located off the south of the Isle of Wight near St Catherine’s Point.
Orkney-based Scotrenewables Tidal Power will develop a 30MW tidal stream array at Lashy Sound in the Orkney Islands. This follows the company testing a 250KW device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney from 2011 onwards.
And Swedish technology developer Minesto will deploy a quarter-scale (3kw) prototype of its Deep Green Ocean Kite in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. The follows tests of its Seakite tidal technology in the lough during 2011-12.
Stuart Carruthers, RYA cruising manager, said: ‘We are disappointed that the Crown Estate has leased the rights for three tidal energy projects in response to the application timeframe for the Saltire Prize worth £10 million and other demonstration projects rather than waiting for the outcome of its own industry engagement exercise. We had understood that this would be used to inform and update the Crown Estate’s approach to wave and tidal leasing.
‘In addition, as the RYA states in its response to the industry engagement exercise, there is currently a lack of detailed MCA navigation advice for developers that is specific to tidal energy development; this needs to be addressed.
‘Given that the coastal mariner may be using the same tidal streams for efficient passage planning, it is essential that the ‘planning basics for navigation’ are determined and agreed much as has been done for wind energy. We can see already that these lease agreements are in areas that are used by a variety of coastal traffic and recreational boats where under keel clearance will be a critical design factor.’
The Crown Estate engagement exercise was launched in July and ended in September. It invited wave and tidal project developers to share their visions of future schemes, including where and when projects may be developed. The exercise also sought suggestions about how The Crown Estate could further improve the way it provides seabed rights, both in the forms of rights provided and the leasing processes itself.
The developers will be required to consult with local stakeholders, complete survey work and prepare applications in order to obtain consent from the relevant authorities, including the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Marine Scotland.
The RYA has set out its position in relation to the development of offshore renewable tidal energy which is intended to enable developers accurately to take account of recreational boating when planning developments. Provided these are fully considered, the RYA believes that the impact that offshore renewable tidal energy has on recreational boating can be minimised.