Friday 20 January 2017

Controversial tidal power plans to continue

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Controversial tidal power plans to continue

Plans are moving forward on an underwater power cable that would enable the UK to benefit from cheaper tidal power generated from Alderney waters - despite the vociferous disapproval from the locals.

The development of FAB Link, a subsea electricity link stretching from the Cotentin Peninsula in northern France to the UK national grid near Exeter, took a major step forward when plans were submitted for approval last month.

Running through Alderney - home to some of Europe's best tidal resources, sufficient to generate in excess of 3,000MW - the link would provide a future connection point to pump tidal energy across the Channel allowing for reduced bills and better energy security for Britain.

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Pictured: A map of the proposed power cable route, which will run through Alderney. (Photo: FAB Link)

However, with the building of a power substation also on the cards, Alderney residents were vocal in their opposition, arguing that the development would ruin the Island’s character.

Hundreds attended a meeting last September to voice their disapproval, with 150 people later staging a public protest and adding their signature to a map showing where the cable is planned to go.

An environmental report submitted to the States of Guernsey, of which the States of Alderney are a constituent part, revealed that, although an alternate route was possible, it had been, “discounted.”

“It would be technically possible to lay the FAB cables around Alderney and for the tidal generation subsequently to connect into them. However, an offshore converter station would be required which would be significantly more expensive than the proposed arrangement,” the report stated.

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Pictured: FAB Link's Offshore Environmental Report, which was submitted to the States of Guernsey.

Despite concerns, FAB Project Development Manager, Chris Jenner, maintained that, “…well over 80 per cent of the people who gave us feedback said that they supported the aims of the FAB Project.”

He added: “We have been determined to develop proposals which will mean we can install the cables with the minimum of inconvenience to local people, and to work closely with anyone who may be affected. The route has also been carefully chosen to avoid environmentally sensitive areas, and we will fully reinstate the land along the route once the cables have been laid.”

If all plans – submitted to the Marine Management Organisation, the East Devon Council, and the States of Guernsey – are approved without reservations, construction could start as early as 2018, with the link operational by 2021.

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