Drilling report's assurances over sea life safety
PORPOISES and seals will not suffer serious effects from proposed drilling in Swansea Bay by a tidal energy company, a report has said.
Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay wants to build a lagoon near the docks to generate electricity, as previously reported in the Post.
It is still very early days and the company wants to investigate the seabed, which requires a permit from the Welsh Government's Marine Consents Unit.
Its application to the unit also comprises a separate report about affects on marine wildlife.
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The proposed work involves seabed sampling and some borehole drilling, and is expected to last three weeks, starting on April 1.
The noise impact assessment said harbour porpoise and common dolphin were the most frequent cetacean visitors to the bay, although Risso's dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and minke whale were occasionally spotted. Grey seals, said the report, were also seen in the bay and along Gower.
Analysing the porpoise and seal noise threshold levels, the assessment concluded: "The proposed site investigation activities are not predicted to have any direct physiological or strong behavioural effects on marine mammals that are found in Swansea Bay. There is potential for minor behavioural impacts to occur within a short distance to the source of noise (up to 40 metres).
"These distances are well away from the main harbour porpoise foraging and grey seal resting/breeding locations.
"Although these species do show movements in Swansea Bay, given the unconfined nature of the area, any passing marine mammals will be able to easily avoid any behavioural impact.
"The overall impact of the noise generated during site investigation activities is, therefore, considered to be insignificant to marine mammals."
Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay has been speaking to many local groups and submitted a 116-page report to the UK's planning inspectorate last October.
It said the lagoon could "supply well over 100,000 homes, or the equivalent to Swansea city's domestic electricity use".
The lagoon would hold back water and then release it through turbines to generate electricity. This would happen at low tide, with water flowing from the lagoon into the sea, and at high tide, with water flowing the other way.
It would cost hundreds of millions of pounds, take some two years to build, and enclose an area of just over 9km².
A company spokeswoman told the Post yesterday: "Information on the underlying soils within the site is required for the design of this scheme and for the preparation of the environmental impact assessment."