The head of the Fishermen's Association in Jersey says the loss of French fishing grounds due to a wind farm project off the coast of St Brieuc is putting increased pressure on local fishing grounds.The project, which has been in planning for almost a decade, has now moved into the groundworks testing and manufacturing stage, displacing parts of the French fishing fleet.Under the Granville Bay Treaty, Jersey and French fishermen have access to parts of each other's waters but, with the added displacement, Jersey fishermen feel they are carrying a disproportionate burden.
The windfarm, which is just 37 kilometres off Jersey's South coast, will span an area of 75 square kilometres on completion. 62 wind turbines will produce enough power to meet the energy needs of 835,000 French homes.A consultation paper, submitted by Jersey's Environment Department in 2016, raised concerns around the visual impact of the wind farm, which will be visible, especially at night, from some areas of Jersey's South Coast. There were also concerns raised over the potential impact on biodiversity.Deputy Gregory Guida, Jersey's Assistant Minister for the Environment, said he had 'no doubt' that the project would have an impact on the environment, but that the French government has been working hard on mitigation measures to ensure the 'net result is not negative'.
But environmental groups remain concerned - Jersey's Marine Conservation Society says species such as dolphins and seals will be disturbed by the works.
Opinion is divided on the potential benefit of windfarms for marine life. According to Kevin McIllvey, marine biologists have noted that artificial structures, like wind turbines, can act as artificial reefs, which in itself is positive, as they offer new places for marine creatures to live in. But, that rests on the species being attracted to the new artificial structures being the right ones.
Another potential benefit, he says, is the reduction in shipping in that particular area, which could be beneficial for seabeds that have potentially been over-fished in the past.
Don Thompson is not convinced by that theory, partly because the fishermen in question have simply moved along, putting more pressure on other areas.
Harnessing wind power is part of an ever growing push towards green energy production.Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to become the world leader in clean wind energy, hoping to power every UK home with wind by 2030.Jersey currently gets its electricity from France, in a combination of nuclear and tidal power. Deputy Guida told ITV News that wind power could be an option for Jersey too, but not on its own.
The French windfarm is expected to be operational by 2023.