Thanet Extension Offshore Wind Farm

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Thanet Extension Offshore Wind Farm

Received 12 September 2018
From Winckworth Sherwood LLP on behalf of Estuary Services Limited

Representation

Estuary Services Limited ("ESL") is a company jointly owned by Port of London Authority and Peel Ports, set up in 1988 to provide pilot boarding and landing services at the North East Spit (from Ramsgate) and The Warps (from Sheerness). ESL serves approximately 10,000 vessels per annum – c7,000 at the NE Spit area – and employs 35 seagoing staff, some with over 30 years’ experience in fast pilot launch boarding and landing operations in the area.

ESL is concerned about the proposals to extend the existing Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, located in the Thames Estuary in the area served by ESL, due to their potential impact on the safety of navigation and the efficiency of ESL’s maritime operations. The wind farm extension proposals are in close proximity to the boarding locations utilised by ESL, with that at the North East Spit most affected.

ESL considers that any extension to the west of the existing wind farm will significantly increase the risks to navigation, particularly for vessels using the North East Spit pilot boarding and landing area to enter or depart the Thames Estuary. The North East Spit boarding and landing area was created as a result of the construction of the existing wind farm, being the next most suitable location for the serving of the majority of vessels. The outer Tongue boarding and landing area was later instated due to concerns from some larger ships in approaching the hazard of the wind farm.

The Applicant’s proposals would force more vessels to use the outer Tongue pilot boarding station, which would itself be pushed further from the shore. This would adversely affect where ESL operates, and lengthen transfers, necessitating additional vessels, maintenance, fuel and personnel. The longer distance to run launches would result in a lesser service and longer delays, particularly in heavy weather where safe transfer of pilots would be at risk. As such, the proposals would have a significant impact on the efficient operation of ESL’s boarding and landing service, seriously diluting the level of service to the ports.

Navigational safety is also a concern for ESL. The proposals would reduce the sea room to the west of the existing wind farm, affecting the shipping corridor running north west/south east between the wind farm and the shore. Even with the Applican’ts modifications, the proposals would push vessels further west towards shallower waters and reduce the width of the sea room in this area by 50%. The North East Spit boarding and landing area may well become unusable, particularly at certain tides and where the prevailing south-westerly wind would tend to push vessels towards the wind farm turbines.

Other impacts of the proposals in respect of navigational risk include loss of the line of sight where inbound vessels may no longer be visible to outbound vessels, backscatter of lights and possible loss of radar targets.

ESL seeks protection within the Order against sedimentation of the channels in the approach to the Port and for measures to minimise navigational risk.