Good news for dolphins

Success! Tidal turbine project that could harm dolphins is halted - Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Following years of campaign work to halt a tidal turbine development in Wales that could seriously injure porpoises and dolphins, we are delighted to report that the scheme has now been halted.

Nova Innovation, the company behind the turbine development has revealed that its Enlli Tidal Project will now be mothballed, a move that lifts the threat of significant impacts on a population of Risso’s dolphins, and harbour porpoises and their ability to feed, breed and raise their young in the sea off Bardsey Island.

In recent years, we have consistently lobbied Welsh MPs and called for the Crown Estate to remove the lease area as a site for development due to concerns about the threat to these marine mammals. Using this technology in such a sensitive site would be inappropriate.

‘Generally, we welcome the development of well-considered marine renewable energy, and any projects that help to mitigate climate change’, says WDC campaigner Vicki James. ‘But when we first heard of plans for a tidal development in Bardsey Sound we were alarmed that the location was directly in a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and in the key feeding area and nursing ground for porpoises and dolphins.'

There is currently very little information about how whales and dolphins interact with tidal energy devices. What little exists gives a real cause for concern, including high encounter rates with turbines and collisions with rotating blades likely to cause direct injury, and in some cases death. Of equal concern is how these devices change the tidal flow and disrupt feeding patterns.

Back in 1999, WDC started research into the harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin populations off Bardsey, the small island in north Wales (Welsh: Ynys Enlli). The data we have collected over the years demonstrates how important this unique island is for the harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin, as well as short-beaked common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

We recognise the importance of trialling renewable energy solutions in the fight to combat climate change, but the importance of these porpoise and Risso’s populations for a healthy marine ecosystem and in fighting the climate and biodiversity crises are just starting to be understood

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Posted On: 08/02/2023

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