A year ago it was agreed that the club would lead work on responding to the applications to Natural Resources Wales and the Planning Inspectorate by Menter Môn for the Morlais Demonstration Zone close to the Stacks area of Holyhead with updates through these blogs.
A small group of SCC members with support from Canoe Wales and individual members of other Canoe Clubs in England who offered support have worked on this. We have made it absolutely clear throughout that our club and the kayaking community does not oppose tidal energy developments and that we are seeking to ensure that kayaking and our use of the sea are properly represented in the impact assessment for the scheme, especially the Navigation Risk Assessment. We would very much like to see further tidal energy development around Anglesey and we already have the Minesto Deep Green project off Holyhead.
We have a range of concerns with the specific proposal by Menter Mon Morlais for The Stacks which we have been asking the developers to avoid, mitigate or compensate. The main issues have boiled down to the following:
Safety - with particular concerns about the run-outs from the South Stack race and Penrhyn Mawr outer race putting capsized paddlers into danger from large surface mounted structures leading to significant risk to life and making rescue more hazardous. In addition, we have concerns about access to the emergency egress at Abrahams Bosom, especially during construction phases.
Navigation - with particular concern about the narrow “inshore passage” envisaged by the developers between the tidal arrays and the coast and the pinch point at South Stack. This concern is compounded by the proposed designation of the MDZ as a “area to avoid” which will displace other craft e.g. yachts into the inshore passage. At present the majority of the yachting community use the area beyond the races and outside the main kayaking routes inshore. Pushing them inshore will increase the risk of kayak vs boat interactions. An interactive boundary assessment showed risks associated with the inshore passage are ‘intolerable’, despite this no widening of the pinch points have not been proposed by Morlais.
Emergency landings - Exclusion zones around construction vessels laying power cables will extend out of Abraham's Bosom and past South Stack. We are not reassured by Morlais’ contention they don’t intend to block passage for kayaks without a commitment to consultation to minimise disruption, especially to planned events e.g. the Sea Symposium.
Hydrodynamics - we have reviewed the hydrodynamic modelling presented by Morlais - this is not appropriate or sufficiently detailed for a proper assessment of the impact of any changes to races or inshore eddies on kayaking. However, working from the modelliing which is available suggests a shift inshore of the races and changes to flows at North Stack. The latest submission of modelled changes provdied by Morlais is on the download link below. Please let us know your reaction to this.
Seascape and amenity - the array Morlais has proposed includes surface mounted turbines along with other surface structures from a range of 1 km off South Stack. Some of the floating barges could be 73 m long (longer than the lighthouse and buildings at South Stack) and electrical hook up towers could emerge 18 m above the water. All would need navigation marking and lights. No assessment of the impact of these on the seascape and enjoyment of the area by sea kayakers has been provided by Morlais.
Economics and business – The Stacks area is the main draw for kayakers visiting Anglesey and we have included concerns about the kayak guiding and other industries including tourism who are reliant on the safe continued use of this area for training and enjoyment. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the two online surveys over the summer. We now have a good body of evidence to support consideration of the contribution made by kayaking on Anglesey to the local economy and the global sea kayaking community.
Consulation between Morlais and SCC/Canoe Wales on behalf of the sea kayaking community commenced in February 2020. We have made our points in consultation responses to the TWA Orders and Marine license and in face to face meetngs. Morlais' response has mostly been defensive and no changes to their plans have been made to aleivaite our concerns.
We are not alone voicing concerns about the Morlais project and there is active objections to the granting of a TWA Order to Morlais from the RSPB, RYA, Anglesey County Council, Trinity House, NRW, MCA and North Wales Wildlife Trust.
You can download the documents we have prepared and submitted to TWAO from the links below:
Statement of case to the Public inquiry and individual reports providing evidnece to support our points on specific issues:
Statement of case
Report on hydrodynamic modellng
Reports on Navigation Risk Assessment
And extra model outputs provided by Morlais from these links:
Hourly changes to current direction and strength
Higher resolution images for impacts on currents
Higher resolution images for impacts on waves:
The next step is the Public Inquiry which will open on the 1 December 2020. Please let us know via info@Snowdoniacanoeclub.org if you have any questions or comments.