Monday, September 17, 2007

Wave Hub Hubbub

"We look forward to using the same energy we've used to ride waves to light up our homes as well." So said Andy Cummings, Campaign Officer of Surfers Against Sewage in response to the news that the UK government has given planning approval for the world's first large-scale wave project off the coast of north Cornwall. In a nutshell - perhaps seashell would be more appropriate - they're going to sink a large socket type gizmo on the sea bed into which will be plugged a selection of energy grabbing devices devised by competing companies with a view, I presume, to testing out which system generates the most watts.

Now if you're familiar with the vagaries of the planning approval system in the UK you will know that "approval" doesn't always equate with judicious decisions. Being seen to be green is more important for some of our politicians than the actual substance of their next eco-friendly pronouncement - which is often timed, it seems to me, to draw some headlines away from whatever uncomfortable issue is in the spotlight that week.

Some surfers have yet to be convinced that the scheme will not spoil their wave fun by sucking up all that wave karma and turning what are arguably some of the UK's finest breaks into "sloppy seconds". On the wireless today I heard some fishermen muttering about about the risks to shipping of all these cables and gubbins. Well mention "corporate surfdom" and "fish stocks" and you have two reasons why surfers and fisherman don't have any particular monopoly on wisdom either. Like most issues, facts tend to help one take a more measured judgement. A cursory trawl through the studies commissioned suggests that wave impact will be negligible and the positives outweigh the negatives. Well, I guess we'll find out soon.

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