WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:
Whether the technology works when placed in situ, as it is a demonstration zone for
commercial development to demonstrate commercial readiness of the devices. If it
does work, where will the next tidal stream energy project be located on Anglesey
and at what cost? If it doesn’t work, the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy
require Morlais to have a decommissioning plan but will there be sufficient funds
still existing for reparations and removal of infrastructure?
These floating devices are absolutely huge....one hopes that they are safe and
stable in an area of recurring ferocious winter storms (Storm Emma March 2018-
destroyed Holyhead Marina) and/or compatible with significant summer coastal
recreational activities such as:
Coasteering -the practice of individuals navigating around rocky headlands and
jumping into the sea - is a popular and exhilarating activity. Coasteering is
accessible in Anglesey and there many outdoor activity centers offering
coasteering trips on Anglesey.
Anglesey has a thriving sailing community. The island is home to six yacht
clubs catering for both coastal dinghy sailing to offshore yachting,
including the Round Anglesey race which has taken place since 1966 and
which is a non- stop circumnavigation of the Island. Much of Anglesey
coastline is the subject of low to moderate amounts of nearshore,
recreational boating activity. The Royal yacht club have significant
objections to the Morlais Project.
View objection letter
Anglesey is one of the UK's top dive destinations. Many of the most popular
dive spots are on Anglesey’s West Coast around the Fangs to the South Stack
Light House which form a series of inlets and submerged reefs.
Anglesey has a growing surfing community. The island’s best surfing locations
are on the south-westerly facing coastline.
Anglesey is a popular destination for sea kayaking for novices and experienced
paddlers. The area of sea around Holy Island including the MDZ is extremely
popular and is one of the most challenging and prestigious not just in the
UK but is known globally. View objection letter
One of the larger objecting organisations have raised an overriding concern
about the relevance of the Morlais Project . There is evidence that other
similar projects have already been discontinued due to the high costs, low
efficiency, in situ mechanical failure and high environmental impacts of
tidal devices such as the failed SeaGen Skerries (Anglesey) and the Ramsey
Sound (Pembrokeshire) tidal energy projects.
Morlais argue that this project will create 100 locally sustainable jobs over
the first 10 years of the project . But will it really? Morlais have indicated
that the devices will come by ship direct from Amsterdam, Belfast etc, though
they have not stated what elements of these devices will be supplied locally?.
Orthios Power (Anglesey) Ltd – located at the old Anglesey Aluminium Plant)
estimate that its proposals (already approved by planning) would materially
support Wales becoming a zero-waste nation by 2050 and are expected to lead
the creation of 2,300 jobs during 5 – 6 years and generate GVA of £2.1 billion.
The Orthios proposals will be put at risk by the Morlais proposals to acquire
Orthios land under the TWA.
What effect will this have on tourism...will people come to see the rugged
seascapes and landscapes once they are covered with industrial barges and
new sub stations. An Anglesey/Gwynedd Council survey found that 41 % of
visitors were attracted to the region by the scenery, landscapes and areas
of natural beauty, 19 % by the beaches and coastlines and 18 % by access
to outdoor activities. secures?
The section around the South Stack area is extremely popular and part of an
important RSPB reserve for active visitor engagement attracting circa 180,000
visitors per year. The visitors are supported by a thriving local leisure
and tourism sector, including self-catering, bed and breakfast and caravanning
and camping) which in turn supports local employment. Surely if Morlais
get the opportunity to industrialise this area of natural beauty, then this
may well signal the death nell for the tourism economy and the local jobs
that it secures?
WHAT WE DO KNOW:
One floating tidal energy device is the same length as the Pont Britannia is high,
or put another way is over twice the length of South Stack Lighthouse and that’s
just the bit you can see above the water surface! Now that is big!
It is felt that the concerns of many residents, local businesses, commercial
organisations and wildlife organisations have not been sufficiently addressed
by Morlais and this has resulted in the planning inspectorate having to schedule
a TWA public hearing December 2020. Further, NRW have now issued a this letter
to Morlais in respect of their application for a marine license.
The Morlais Project as it is currently planned will impact species and habitats
that have been protected for decades. It will destroy an area of outstanding
national beauty and make South Stack a ‘blot’ on the landscape.
The Morlais project application has escalated in the shadows and has morphed
from a Tidal Stream Demonstration Zone Project to a full commercial and
industrial marine and land infrastructure project, requiring a Transport
Work Order Application (TWA) so that Morlais can compulsorily and
legally purchase swathes of land. (Do the public really know what
Morlais are doing, local canvassing suggests not!)
If Morlais were granted a Marine License, this would lead to the installation
and commercialisation of up to 620 tidal energy devices situated 500m
off the west coast of Holy Island (Anglesey). Up to 120 of these brightly
coloured devices could be surface mounted (15 of which can be apx75m in
length and apx3.5m tall) with giant sub-surface water turbines. The devices
would be tethered to the seabed with huge metal cables/chains secured to
concrete plinths scarring the seabed. This would attract even more global
developers of tidal energy machinery resulting in deployment of even more
tidal devices but on an even larger commercial scale.
Morlais, for the longest time told the public that there would be no visual
impact to seascape and/or landscape. Minesto (an earlier sub surface tidal
project some 5Km offshore) conducted a visual impact assessment on the very
same seascape that Minesto has assessed. The Minesto impact assessment stated:
“The sea is an important backdrop in the views of the lighthouse contributing
to its aesthetic value. Views of the sea and of the tower as a picturesque
feature with the sea as a backdrop contribute to the towers aesthetic and
historic value”. How can two assessments be so diametrically opposed in
If Morlais were granted a TWA, then nine huge landfall export cables
(240MW of power) would come ashore at Abraham’s Bosom. Morlais have
stated that the preferred route is HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling)
through bedrock however if this proves to be technically unfeasibly then
all cables will be routed up the SSSI protected cliff edge in full view
of the Anglesey Coastal Path and into a newly built electrical substation
at South Stack. The cables from the substation will route under the roads
(2 years of contra-flow traffic delays) from Holyhead, via Poth Dafarch
and join the national grid at the old Anglesey aluminium plant. Further;
the planned onshore cabling and sub-station is specified to accommodate
180MW but the offshore capacity is 320MW (240MW from Morlais & 80MW
from Minesto Deep). Can we look forward to another round of ‘onshore
industrialisation’ creating a second body blow to local businesses,
tourism and the environment?
IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
With the cost of generating energy from offshore wind turbines falling rapidly,
coupled with the UK Government significantly backing wind turbine energy; only
20 wind turbines would currently be needed to generate the maximum 240MW generating
capacity of Morlais, then wouldn’t it be a better use of money to increase the
size of existing wind farms where the infrastructure and environmental damage
has already occurred or is actively monitored? There are significant questions
as to the ongoing energy relevance of the Morlais project relative to the
predicted long-term and largely irreversible environmental damage to the
‘off and onshore’ ecosystems in the vicinity and the loss of an area of
outstanding natural beauty and heritage.
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