Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

You may be familiar with our concerns about a new development just off the coast of Anglesey. The West Anglesey Tidal Demonstration Zone ‘Morlais’ is a new marine renewable energy project. Sadly, the scale of this project is a big threat to the local wildlife.

What is the proposal?

The project wants to use turbines that harness tidal currents to produce ‘tidal stream’ energy. If fully developed it would result in up to 620 devices being placed under water - just off the coast from the famous RSPB South Stack reserve. This would mean a development which will dominate over 35 square kilometres of the sea.

Why is this area so important?

RSPB South Stack and the surrounding coastline offers a spectacle like no other. The area is home to iconic seabirds like puffins, along with over 10,000 guillemots, and 1,300 razorbills who come here to raise their chicks each summer. Bottlenose dolphins and porpoises are often spotted in the sea below the cliffs too. More than 180,000 people flock to the area to witness this spectacle, bringing important tourism to the Isle of Anglesey.

The technology that would be used for this project is brand new. Its impacts on marine life are therefore untested and incredibly hard to predict. Estimates show a range of effects are possible. One estimate given by Menter Mon (which is not the worst case) is that around 60% of the guillemots and 98% of the razorbills at RSPB South Stack could die through collision with the turbines. That’s potentially 795 birds that could die per year.  

We are extremely concerned about the size of the development being proposed and its significant impact on the bird population. Our view is that Morlais gambles the future of South Stack’s wildlife and the tourism that depends on it. We are concerned that the applications submitted by the developers to date show that they have not put the right measures in place to manage this high level of risk or cease operating if significant collisions do occur. For this reason, we have objected to both applications for a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) and a Marine Licence.

What do we want to see?

We are calling for a smaller pilot development with that doesn’t roll the dice on South Stack’s wildlife or threaten the local tourism economy that depends on it. This means limiting the number of turbines to a level that can be demonstrated as safe for nature and allowing time to do more research on the effects of this new technology to improve scientific understanding.

The planet faces a nature and climate emergency. Healthy seas are one of our buffers against the impacts of climate change. Renewable energy is a crucial part of tackling climate change, but developments must be sited and planned in ways that avoid further damaging our seas. As we come out of lockdown, we want to come back to a world in which people and nature are allowed to recover. 

What are the latest campaign updates?

 Since our last blog on this, new information has been added to the planning application and marine licence for the Morlais project.

Further Environmental Information for the TWAO application is on the Planning Inspectorate's website. Menter Môn (the developer) has also submitted the same information for the marine licence application, on the register Natural Resources Wales (NRW) public register. NRW requested further information from Menter Môn, and this has now been supplied and is viewable on the public register.

Having reviewed these new documents, we are maintaining our objection. Disappointingly, very little has been done to address the predicted death of guillemots and razorbills through collision with the turbines. We also remain concerned that the developers have not submitted plans for how they will monitor the risks to wildlife within the development and what steps they would take if these predictions come true.

*Update*

Natural Resources Wales has now received further information from Menter Môn in support of their application and have begun a consultation period which will run until the 9 September.

Details on how you can input into this consultation can be found on the NRW website’s current consultations webpage.

This information, along with all available documents associated with the application can be accessed on the online public register (You can search for the documents using the application reference number ORML1938).

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