RSPB looking to protect South Stack seabirds

The RSPB is concerned about a proposal for a new project which could potentially cause disturbance and harm to thousands of the seabirds that call RSPB South Stack reserve on Anglesey their home.

The project is for a Marine Demonstration Zone for tidal stream energy – this would use turbines that harness tidal currents. If fully developed it could result in the construction and deployment of up to 620 devices over 35 square kilometres of sea to generate around 240MW of renewable electricity. Some of the turbines would be fixed to the seabed and others floating on the surface.   

The MDZ lies off the west coast of Anglesey close to the RSPB South Stack reserve and other important sites for nature, in an area where species including Puffin, Guillemot, Kittiwakes and Razorbills can be sighted each summer. More than 180,000 people flock to the area where they can see over 10,000 Guillemots and 1,300 Razorbills roosting on the sea cliffs. 

This is novel technology and the impacts on marine life are hard to quantify. Modelling shows a range of effects are possible, one estimate (which is not the worst case) is that around 60% of the Guillemots and 98% of the Razorbills at RSPB South Stack could be lost through collision with the turbines. 

It is therefore highly uncertain what level of tidal stream development might avoid adverse effects on the seabird populations at RSPB South Stack. The RSPB is concerned about the scale of the consent that is being sought. Their view is that the application has not adequately addressed the risks to seabirds and that it could have unacceptable impacts on nature. For this reason, they have objected to the application for a Transport and Works Act Order which is needed in addition to a Marine Licence. 

Read the full RSPB post here.

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