Offshore Wind Energy
With an increasing number of wind farms in operation, under construction or planned around the UK coast, it is more important than ever to remain engaged with offshore energy developers to ensure the best possible outcome for recreational boating.
The current UK Government commitment is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 and to produce 15% of its total energy production from renewable resources by 2020, which has led to the development and proposals for wind and tidal energy installations around the UK coast.
RYA Current Involvement in Wind Farm Development
Whilst the RYA acknowledges the Government's desire to promote renewable energy, we are keen to ensure the navigational safety of recreational boating around the coast.
Over the past twelve years we have worked together with the whole maritime community, notably the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Trinity House, the Chamber of Shipping, the UK Major Ports Group and other influential bodies in an effort to limit the effect that offshore renewable energy developments will have on recreational navigation.
In doing so the RYA has sought to educate the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and each wind farm developer individually on all the issues regarding recreational boating. The result has been the wide spread acknowledgement of the importance of navigational safety and regular engagement in the consultation process, both at the strategic level as well as on a site by site basis, particularly through the Round 2 and now Round 3 zone developments.
How has the RYA’s involvement safeguarded recreational boating to date?
The RYA has achieved the position where we are now consistently consulted directly by each developer to ensure recreational boating is considered and mitigated for appropriately.
The essential points underpinning our efforts which now apply to all offshore wind farm developments are:
- The RYA position has always been focussed on the safety of navigation and is built around two fundamental issues:
1. Avoidance of ‘squeeze’ of craft towards shipping lanes and dangerous coastlines
2. Minimisation of ‘diversion’ from the safest, most efficient or habitual routes
- The RYA has ensured that the wind turbine generators present a minimum obstacle by establishing a suitable standard for lighting and marking in collaboration with Trinity House and that the turbine blades have an agreed minimum height of 22m above MHWS – a height greater than the air draft of the majority of recreational sailing vessels.
- Together with the General Lighthouse Authorities and the UKHO, we have ensured that all offshore wind farms are or will be adequately marked, lit and charted.
- The RYA has worked very hard to establish a position with the developers which avoids mandatory safety zones around the bases of the individual turbines, other than during their construction/maintenance/decommissioning. We have been particularly successful on this point as other countries have imposed operational safety zones around turbines and in some cases around entire wind farm arrays.
Are there any publications to support the RYA’s Position?
The RYA has developed a detailed position statement on offshore wind farm developments, based on recreational craft data, which we provide to every developer during the consultation process. All the RYA's concerns regarding recreational boating and offshore wind farm developments are included in this statement and the RYA expects the information within the document to be addressed in the future development of each project.
The RYA have also carried out an extensive mapping project to identify cruising routes, sailing and racing areas to better inform the management process. Initially this culminated in a detailed description of cruising routes, racing and sailing areas for the three strategic wind farm development areas in 2004 and is reported in the document 'Sharing the Wind'.
This project then evolved to cover the whole of the UK following considerable demand from the wind farm industry. In 2005, with funding from Trinity House, the RYA produced the UK Coastal Atlas of Recreational Boating. This document, along with the GIS dataset, is now regularly incorporated into developers’ consultations and navigational risk assessments.