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 to the Met Department on wind resources around Jersey waters and help inform discussions about harnessing wind energy at some point in the future.
The data will also be used to help with forecasting the weather and 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 the real wind information before they head out to sea.
The plans have been on hold since autumn last year in order for Jersey Met to listen to the views of people who use the reefs, consider concerns raised 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 is an important project that will provide us with accurate, up-to-date information about the very specific weather conditions in this part of Jersey and which 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.’