NORTH DEVON WORLD SURFING RESERVE UPDATE ON PROPOSED WHITE CROSS OFFSHORE WIND FARM PROJECT
In advance of a planning decision being made regarding the White Cross Offshore Wind Farm, experts on behalf of the North Devon World Surfing Reserve has been assessing the current plans and we wanted to share an update on the situation so far.
In light of the climate crisis and need to move away from fossil fuels, the Reserve supports desperately needed renewable energy projects in the area but requires new projects to not negatively impact on the fragile surf ecosystem.
IMPACT ON SWELL & SURF ECOSYSTEM FROM THE FLOATING WIND TURBINES
To assess the impact of the floating wind turbines the University of Plymouth proposed Wave Modelling research which was undertaken by White Cross. We have been shown preliminary findings and the headline result is that the modelling predicts that the development will not cause any noticeable change to wave conditions at Saunton or any North Devon beach.
IMPACT ON SWELL & SURF ECOSYSTEM FROM THE EXPORT CABLE INSTALLATION AT SAUNTON SANDS
At this point we have only seen the proposed cable corridor, which is the map of the broad area to be included in the next stage of research and we do not have any scientific research to be able to take a position.
Our team of experts have looked at the data shared so far, which essentially confirms that the cable is proposed to run through the sandy substrate of Saunton Sands beach. If this remains true upon consent, then as long as the cables are buried at the right depth then there is less of an issue where beneath the beach they are installed. This also takes into account that there are already two telecommunications cables buried beneath the main break at Saunton.
In terms of cable depth, we have seen some basic information about historic beach elevations that are being considered, which we consider to be the correct initial approach when determining the burial depth. But as far as we are aware there has been no indication of consideration of sea-level rise scenarios.
· As further details on the cabling will occur post consent, we would recommend that the contractors are required via planning conditions to guarantee that the cable is buried in the sand at a depth deep enough to remain covered through storms or sea-level changes impacting the movement of sand in the future under all scenarios.
· We also recommend further analysis of the method used to lay the cable (HDD or trench) to enable a better understating of impact on the quality of surf and surf ecosystem.
· The process is ongoing and we will keep tracking any new information as it is released.
We would like to thank the experts at the University of Plymouth for guiding the research and providing insights on behalf of the whole Reserve in their role on the Local Stewardship Council.
We would also like to recognise that the team at White Cross have engaged proactively with the University of Plymouth on behalf of the North Devon World Surfing Reserve, and this again sets an important precedent in the area so that any future planning or construction must take into account any impact on the surf or surf ecosystem.