|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Donaldson of Lymington: My Lords, I want to pick up the last point concerning the fact that a wind farm is not an isolated object, such as a platform. One must also remember that it has a safety zone around it, which may contribute to the safety of the wind farm if
Much of the planning will depend upon having a clear idea of where ships go, and I am reminded of some surprising situations. In 1993, I was asked by the Government to conduct an inquiry into pollution around the coast of the United Kingdom and into what could be done to prevent it. One question which I asked of the department was, "Where do ships go?". There was a deafening silence and then back came the answer, "A lot of research was done some years ago and clearways were established so that platforms would not be built in the areas where ships go". I said, "Well, that's a useful starting point for us. How does it work?". The answer was, "It doesn't work at all because either nobody tells the ships or it doesn't suit the ships. They don't use the clearway; they simply thread their way as best they can through the platforms". Therefore, it is no good simply to have bright ideas about where one would like ships to go; one must take account of where they actually do go. I was helped a little by some retired mariners of whom I asked, "If you were going from A to B, what route would you take?". At any rate, that was better than the clearway system.
However, since then, some fairly detailed studies have been carried out on where ships goat least, in coastal areasand clearly those must be taken into account. Again, I commend the Dutch example of updating such statistics through monitoring. As the size of ships change, draughts change and so patterns will change. One has to be careful to take account of reasonably foreseeable future developments.
It has been said that nowadays standards of navigation vary considerably. That is right, but I do not believe that we should dismiss that on the basis that some third-world countries licence their mariners rather freely. The general-secretary of one of the maritime unions, who I am sure is an admirable trade union leader, has no personal experience of ships. He went to the east for a fortnight and came back with a full master's ticket. It cost the union £5,000, but that was money well spent as it revealed the realities of life. One cannot assume that someone with a certificate in charge of a ship necessarily knows what he is doing.
I do not necessarily believe that that is the greatest risk. The biggest risk is fatigue. Ships often comply with minimum standards, but really they are undermanned. Two examples come to my mind. The first was a gentleman who ran his brand new ship on to an islandI forget whether it was the Pentland Firth, but it was in that kind of areawhere it stays to this day. When asked why he had done so, he said, "I got blinded by the lighthouse on the island". That was not a very good excuse. Further research showed that he had been very tired, had come across the Atlantic and that only he and the master were competent watchkeepers. He had undoubtedly dozed off and, at the last minute, seen the lighthouse. Because of his tiredness and in the confusion, instead of putting the
A second example is that of a banana ship which came in after fierce troubles in the Atlantic. It berthed in Portsmouth. The master was given two hours in which to discharge some cargo and put to sea again. Desperately tired, he put to sea and, thinking he saw a navigation light, he took emergency action, putting his ship straight into the Nab Tower. He was a perfectly competent masterI believe he had 40 plus years' experience and an unblemished record. I very much regret that the coastguard agency saw fit to prosecute him. I believe that his employers should have been prosecuted. Such situations happen and we have to take account of them.
Those who erect wind farms should bear in mind that, relatively speaking, they are very fragile structures. The individual structures in a wind farm have absolutely no chance against a ship of any size, with any dead-weight. A ship would skittle them down and there would probably not be much harm caused to the ship. People who erect wind farms might like to take such matters into account.
The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, mentioned the entrance to the Humber. I have been looking at a chartlet produced, I believe, by the Chamber of Shipping on which it says at the bottom that it is not to be used for navigation purposes. That is plainly true, but it is a frightening prospect. How will a ship enter the Humber if the various projected wind farms are erected? I am sure it can be done, but the exercise will call for the utmost skill and vigilance and a high degree of risk will be involved.
I want to mention radar. I have heard interesting remarkson the radio or whereverby someone speaking on behalf of the MoDI believe he came from the air ministry sideconcerning worries about the effect of wind farms on radar. To my surprise he said that the MoD was very worried about wind farms in areas where low-flying aircraft operate, but that otherwise it was not very worried. If the radar used by aircraft can be disturbed by wind farms, those in the MoD concerned with the sea should consider this matter carefully, as should the Government.
For all those reasons, I wholeheartedly support the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway. It is too much to expect the Government to support it, but I hope that they will give it careful consideration and will not oppose any amendments in this group that are pressed.
Lord Donaldson of Lymington: My Lords, no doubt that is right, provided that the foundation projects sufficiently high from the sea bed. If the foundation is sufficient, I do not see why the stalk of the windmill
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, this debate provides a good example of the unfortunate fact that we already have the renewable energy zone proposition and the safety zones around renewable energy installations have been proposed before the Government have brought forward their long-promised marine Bill, which would give a marine planning framework. Without a spatial framework, it is very difficult to balance the competing demands of renewable energy, commercial shipping and even recreational yachting.
In disagreeing with the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, I declare an interest as a recreational sailor. I view the issues of climate change as more important than whether I shall be able to sail in a recreational manner here or there. If push came to shove, I would certainly choose to have my recreational sailing slightly disrupted.
In principle, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, has raised an extremely important point about whether the competing demands are being dealt with fairly despite the lack of a spatial planning framework. One slight concern is that the debate on the amendment has focused mostly on renewable energy zones. The amendment talks about approaches to ports. My understanding was that most renewable energy zonesperhaps the Minister can clear up this pointwill be further out to sea. As regards approaches to ports, the important factor is the safety zones around the renewable energy installations. A number of issues with regard to commercial shipping need to be addressed and I suggest that Clause 87 should concern those who have a great interest in it.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, for moving Amendment No. 172. As he pointed out, it has been grouped with Amendments Nos. 179, 184 and 184A. The issue is clearly extremely important. In a sense, we have had a Second Reading debate. Depending on the Government's response to these amendments, it may or may not be necessary to vote at a later stage in the proceedings.
It is extraordinary that whatever subject comes up in your Lordships' House there is immediately a huge amount of expertise available to debate it. I shall not go through this matter in the form of a wind-up speech, but I shall comment on some of the points that have been made and make a few of my own.
As I said in Committee, I am not intrinsically against wind farms. Almost every weekend I fly to Holland at a rather low altitude, and I am surrounded by wind farms when I arrive there. In the course of doing that, one is very conscious of the large amount of shipping passing from one side of the Channel to the other. It is quite extraordinary that we have reached this stage in relation to such matters without proper consultation and consideration having been given to them by the Government. If the Government were
The effect of the location of the wind farms, of course, is partly economic, partly environmental and partly a matter of safety. So far as the economic side is concerned, my noble friend Lord Caithness pointed out that 95 per cent by volume of our international trade is by ship, and he also implied that 25 per cent of our internal trade is carried by sea. That is a matter of very great importance.
To what extent have the Government evaluated the problems that arise from diverting our own and other countries' shipping as a result of putting up the wind farms? More particularly, with regard to the environment, have they taken into account the extent to which there may be an increase in pollution because of the re-routing of ships as well as some saving from the location of the wind farms? Whether or not the wind farms are located sensibly will have an effect on the net gain with regard to the sustainable environmental aspects of the question.
It is also the case that there is potential, to which the noble Lord drew attention in proposing the amendment, for an environmental disaster. If we do not take fully into account the safety aspects, we shall almost be planning for a disaster, and not necessarily only one. As the noble Lord pointed out, the degree of damage following the sinking of the ferry in the Channel last year was very considerable. If the wind farms are located in the wrong place, the dangers are likely to be repeated time and again and the likelihood is that more than one super tanker will collide with them. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson said, although the damage to a super tanker is not likely to be very great, it is still possible that there would be some leakage. That would pose a constant threat to the environment, which needs to be mitigated as much as possible by locating the wind farms in the right places.
In proposing the amendment, the noble Lord spoke also to Amendment No. 184, which raises a number of points. It is extraordinary that the issue is to some extent divided between different departments. The lead department appears to be the Crown Estateperhaps not a department that immediately comes to mind with regard to the development of international or offshore waters. The document produced by the Crown Estate shows a mass of proposed sitessome, as mentioned on the other side of the House, of very considerable extentwhich could not be more conveniently located, not off the shipping lanes but in the Thames Estuary, off the Greater Wash and off Liverpool. All that appears to have happened without any regard to where the shipping lanes actually are and the extent to which the ships will need to divert in order to avoid them, subject to all the hazards of navigation, to which a number of noble Lords have drawn attention.
Clearly, these are matters of very great importance. It is right that we should debate them and, if necessary, vote on them. A number of other points have arisen, particularly with regard to our international treaty obligations, which perhaps may more appropriately be dealt with on consideration of later amendments. I believe that we have been right to raise this issue today. We are grateful to the noble Lord for moving the amendment. There are a number of additional points of greater detail, to which I am sure we shall want to pay close attention in a moment.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have participated in this extensive debate. I am particularly grateful to the mover of Amendment No. 172 and to those who have spoken to
Perhaps I may first clear up one important misconception that I believe has underlined one or two contributions to the debate. To a degree, that misunderstanding is implicit in Amendment No. 172, the first amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway.
The amendment implies that decisions will be taken about whether offshore renewable energy development is to be permitted and then the renewable energy zone will be created over that area of the sea. That is exactly the wrong way round. The process we are introducing is the opposite. The renewable energy zone will be created first around the whole of the United Kingdom. The reason why it is referred to in plural is that it is cumulative.
The zone is not defined totally in one stage. Zones are defined but the concept is a zone around the United Kingdom established in stages in the area of the sea where the UK has the right to produce energy from the water and winds. Designation of the zones is purely an enabling step to give us the legal power to consider and control renewable energy development within them. Creation of these zones does not imply that renewable energy development will take place in any particular location. The process of deciding where and how development will take place comes at a later stage.
In response to the noble Lord, Lord Monro, as regards the Scottish issue, the Solway Firth was the subject of consultation. It featured in round one and was carried out with the agreement of the Scottish Executive. As the noble Lord rightly identifies, it is in Scottish waters. The process might not have been as extensive as he would have liked. It may be that we need to learn lessons from round one on several aspects of consulting more effectively. However, I assure the noble Lord that that was not carried out as part of a "mega" project by the Department of Trade and Industry imposing a requirement upon the locality against some kind of master plan. That is not the way the issues are evolving and it was not so in that case.
What I have learnt from this debate and what noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Monro, have pressed with great strength, is that we need carefully to consider the process of consultation and the position to which the noble Lords, Lord Greenway and Lord Higgins, referred where certain interests felt that they had been consulted on general issues contained in
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|