Written Evidence from Cllr Stuart Anderson,
Conwy County Borough Council
I can send an outline map diagram of the proposed
North Wales integrated harbour/marina/offshore impoundment scheme,
which is being discussed next Wednesday between RWE Innogy/npower
and a small cross-County group including Conwy's and Denbighshire's
Cabinet members for Environment.
Up here, after nearly six long and patient years
pursuing the idea, we have developed a somewhat different "angle"
on the OTI concept than the one promulgated by Peter Ullman of
Tidal Electric, which we think you should be briefed about.
Unlike TE we doubt it will ever be as "economic"
as offshore wind power. It will also be more restrictedfor
reasons explained in materials I can send. In the first instance
it needs a pilot scheme, at a site where it is actually wanted
for other reasons (harbour, marina, iconic visitor centre). I
was present in June 2001 at a meeting with the North Wales Regional
Director and Energy Officer of WDA, when Peter Ullman was offered
help with a pilot study, which he turned down on grounds that
he felt the scheme was already ripe for commecial launch. Quite
ridiculous! There was also over-sensitivity about patent and intellectual
property rights. This was also the reason he upset RWE/npower
(then National Wind Power) in separate talks, to the point where
they broke off communication. He is a pleasant enough chap personally,
but underneath it all very possessive and "pushy" in
terms of business attitude, and despite the sales talk gets upset
and touchy when mere "locals" such as myself want a
hand in discussing things to do with layout etc. He has also been
maddening for the WDA to deal withthough the problem admittedly
is a shared one in that respect.
In short, it's taken a long time to get to where
we are, and though we are grateful to Peter Ullman for his idea,
we have modified it ourselves now to such an extent that we feel
it is a distinct entity. We are working in close contact with
Keith Williams and Professors Jim Poole and Roger Falconer from
UOW Cardiff to take things further.
We would be happy to include Peter Ullman in
a studybut strictly on our terms, and the WDA's original
ones, which were that information and results should be freely
available to all parties.
One of the big and necessary adjustments we
think we've hit on is the need for large turbine (and sluice)
capacityperhaps three or four times as much turbine capacity
as Peter (or ourselves originally) thought necessary.
There seems simply to be no way round this snag,
which also (incidentally) has equally big implications for a tidal
barrage. The plus side (particularly relevant in relation to the
barrage scenario) is that if you can uprate capacity, flows approximate
to the natural ones but are just delayed by four to five hours.
On the whole silting-up, and interference with wildlife eg wading
birds' habitat, should be a lot less. Also Jim Poole is in contact
with a New Zealand firm that has experience with geotextile bag
usage in exposed artificial reefsthey seem to be reliable
and are also advising Bournemouth County Council over flood defence.
The findings from a pilot OTI would be important
for future tidal barrage schemes, too. Since the demise of the
Severn Barrage studies, there has been a bit of a conspiracy of
silence on this subject, it being assumed that we know all there
is to know already. We are sceptical about this! Two decades is
a long time and engineering advances have been considerable since,
especially in the realm of offshore use of materials, and in the
necessay business of joined-up thinking in relation to flood defence.
There's no doubt marine current turbine (MCT)
technology is forging aheadan excellent thing . . . But
this has no side-benefit potential to flood defence, and we in
Wales are supposed to be commited to the principles of sustainable
development, which take social as well as environmental and economic
factors into accountnot to say, post-New Orleansfuture
resilience. Sixty per cent of people live along the coast in Wales,
and they want to know that the government cares about the effects
of future rising sea levels. If we can do things that protect
us and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, surely we should be looking
actively into doing so. Curiously, Rhyl may not be a bad place
11 November 2005