24 January 2013
The Met Department wants to find out more about the wind around Jersey’s territorial waters to inform future planning for renewable energy.
It is applying for permission to put a mast and weather monitoring equipment on outlying rocks three kilometres from the main island of the Écréhous and six kilometres from the main island of the Minquiers.
The three-year offshore wind project is sponsored by Jersey Electricity. If the application is approved, the kit and masts will transmit information on wind resources around Jersey waters and help inform discussions about harnessing wind energy in the future.
The data will also be used to help with forecasting the weather, checking the forecasts, and Jersey Harbours will use the information to improve safety at sea. It plans to publish information online, updated hourly, which will allow mariners to check wind information before they head out to sea.
The plans have been on hold since autumn last year so Jersey Met could listen to people who use the reefs, consider concerns about impact on wildlife and the environment, and to assess the project’s impact on the reefs and surrounding waters.
Jersey Met considered alternatives to the current proposal; a mast designed like a flagpole and a marine buoy mounted system. Neither was suitable for financial or practical reasons. However, if the application is approved, Jersey Met has given an undertaking to help protect bird colonies on the reefs, in line with advice offered by bird experts at the Société Jersiaise.
The 10 metre mast and weather monitoring equipment will not be put in place during the bird nesting season, and the mast would be erected without the usual supporting guy lines which can pose a risk to flying birds.
Principal Meteorological Officer Anthony Pallot said "This project will provide us with accurate, up-to-date information about the very specific weather conditions in this part of Jersey. This is essential to long term planning for Jersey’s future energy needs.
"We understand and respect the views of all the stakeholders in this project and I hope people will agree that we’ve tried to take account of all the issues raised.
"The location of the site has been chosen with great care and considerable thought and discussion, taking account of all the issues raised by those involved, and balancing it against the cost and practicality of other options."
The site notice for the application will be placed near the main access slipways for Les Écréhous, rather than on Grande Rousse itself, in order to limit disturbance to wildlife on the site.
The Department of the Environment has carried out research and reached the following conclusions:
- there has been detailed engagement with all stake holders of the reefs
- there will not be an unacceptable impact on features of ecological, archaeological or historic importance, on hydrology or coastal processes, nor the marine, intertidal or coastal environment
- there will not be an unacceptable visual impact
- there will not be an unacceptable impact on the character of the immediate and wider landscape
- there will not be an unreasonable impact on neighbouring uses and the local environment through noise, odour, pollution (to air, water or soil), visual intrusion or other amenity consideration during construction, operation and decommissioning
- it will not prejudice the safe operation of shipping and / or Jersey Airport
- there will not be any unacceptable impacts as a consequence of any associated infrastructure required to service the site
The following individuals and organisations have been asked to give their views on the plans over the last 18 months:
- Connétable of Grouville
- Receiver General (land owner)
- Planning Department
- Connétable of St Martin
- RAMSAR Management Authority
- Les Écréhous Baraque Association
- Les Minquiers Baraque Association
- Ornithology Section, Société Jersiaise
- Members of the public who use Les Écréhous and Les Minquiers