Article

Reap what you sow

Among those the Chamber is very concerned about are the Thanet extension, Greater Gabbard and extensions, and three projects in Scotland that threaten to block approaches to the Forth, he says. The map of Round 3 proposals shows the full extent of offshore wind farms: "If that was to be proposed on land, people would be on the streets. But that is the problem - out of sight, out of mind, do what you like."

The Chamber of Shipping has warned of ‘severe consequences' if the UK's offshore wind power planning process isn't tightened up. Felicity Landon reports

"Oops, there's a wind turbine in the main approach channel. How did that happen?" Quite easily, according to the Chamber of Shipping, which is warning that plans for thousands more offshore wind turbines are posing a real risk to UK trade.

"Get it wrong now and we risk severe consequences," warns Saurabh Sachdeva, nautical consultant at the Chamber. "There will be a major incident and we will look back and say - what were they doing?"

In recent months, we have heard a great deal about the undoubtedly significant opportunities for ports in supporting the construction and maintenance of wind farms now and in the future. Mr Sachdeva acknowledges this too: "Yes, there are opportunities and Chamber members will benefit," he says. "But you can only support offshore wind farms if the ships can get into your port."

A few years ago, early plans for the giant London Array wind farm would actually have closed off the Port of London. One memorable comment I heard - it was as if those in high places had taken an AA road... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Chamber of Shipping has warned of ‘severe consequences' if the UK's offshore wind power planning process isn't tightened up. Felicity Landon reports

"Oops, there's a wind turbine in the main approach channel. How did that happen?" Quite easily, according to the Chamber of Shipping, which is warning that plans for thousands more offshore wind turbines are posing a real risk to UK trade.

"Get it wrong now and we risk severe consequences," warns Saurabh Sachdeva, nautical consultant at the Chamber. "There will be a major incident and we will look back and say - what were they doing?"

In recent months, we have heard a great deal about the undoubtedly significant opportunities for ports in supporting the construction and maintenance of wind farms now and in the future. Mr Sachdeva acknowledges this too: "Yes, there are opportunities and Chamber members will benefit," he says. "But you can only support offshore wind farms if the ships can get into your port."

A few years ago, early plans for the giant London Array wind farm would actually have closed off the Port of London. One memorable comment I heard - it was as if those in high places had taken an AA road atlas, found a bit of blue and stuck a pin in it. There we are, an excellent place for a wind farm.

More recently, Aberdeen has been fighting a battle to keep wind turbines clear of its approaches. And there are similar concerns elsewhere.

"I think there has been a large element of ‘there is a bit of water', let's put a wind farm there," says Richard Everitt, chief executive of the Port of London Authority.

"It is another example of the UK not understanding how important the shipping industry is." Mr Sachdeva says that until now the Chamber has taken a "mild approach" to the issue. "But we are hardening our approach, because there is a real risk to UK trade," he says.

"I have kept quiet for so long, as we have tried to get our view across behind closed doors. But if we don't make a noise now, it will be very easy to blame shipping for everything that goes wrong, when it is the process itself that is wrong.

"The wind farm developers say ships can manoeuvre and deviate, turbines can't. But what if you put the turbines in the wrong place?"

The "flawed process" of planning wind farm sites could even wipe out any environmental benefits of wind generation because ships will be forced to take lengthy diversions, burning extra fuel at huge financial and environmental cost, he adds.

"No one has worked out the numbers or the carbon impact of that." Indeed, Mr Everitt says that the Warwick Thanet wind farm is already of concern for the PLA. "Ships not familiar with the waters, instead of running between the wind farm and land, tend to go around outside the wind farm, which means pilots are being landed and picked up further out from Ramsgate," he says.

"The developers say why don't the ships go inside the wind farm; that is all very well, but if you are handling a ship and are not that familiar with the waters, why would you take that risk? There does seem to be this attitude that the shipping industry ‘will adapt'."

The shipping industry had a lot of problems and issues with Rounds 1 and 2, says Mr Sachdeva. "But now what you are talking about with Round 3 is obstruction on a scale never seen before, which would disrupt whole trade routes. That is not acceptable." The Round 3 proposals cause a serious threat to the UK import/export business and to the safety of seafarers," he says.

Among those the Chamber is very concerned about are the Thanet extension, Greater Gabbard and extensions, and three projects in Scotland that threaten to block approaches to the Forth, he says. The map of Round 3 proposals shows the full extent of offshore wind farms: "If that was to be proposed on land, people would be on the streets. But that is the problem - out of sight, out of mind, do what you like."

London had major concerns relating to the London Array, because of the proximity of the southern tip of the wind farm to the junction between the port's two main access channels - the channel from the Sunk and the Princes Channel.

"We were able to resolve that satisfactorily with the developer in terms of a small number of turbines being taken out of the plans," says Mr Everitt. "It is like putting up a building at a T junction; you want to maintain the sight lines of the junction. "But the other big issue - and this is much wider than just us - has been the whole issue of ships' radars, and ships getting spurious plots as a result of reflection from these turbines."

The PLA also negotiated with the developers for an extension of the port's own network of radars overseeing the river and estuary, with two further radars being installed to ensure safety of navigation around the turbines.

The maritime world has a lot of gain from offshore renewable developments - there are obvious opportunities for ports, survey vessels, offshore construction vessels, jack-up rigs, maintenance vessels and cable layers. And shipping interest fully recognise the importance of renewable energy sources, says Mr Sachdeva. "But it is in our interests to get it right and in the developers' interests to get it right. Let's not make a big mistake."


Source: http://www.portstrategy.com...

SEP 30 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/28264-reap-what-you-sow
back to top