While some surfers are dead-set against it, Surfers Against Sewage are putting their support behind plans for the £20m Wave Hub planned for the north Cornwall coast because they believe that the wave height will be reduced by only a small amount, and that the environmental benefits are worth it.
The proposed power station, to become operational in 2008, will involve up to 20 sets of machines, with pumps, pistons and turbines, about 10 miles (16km) out to sea off St Ives Bay, generating electricity for 14,000 homes.
The machines will be placed across a three-mile (5km) stretch, but because of the angle of the swell, could affect the 20-mile (32km) coastline from St Ives to Newquay.
John Baxendale, a chartered physicist and engineer who runs a surf forecasting agency argues:
“It is fairly obvious to me that any barrage of energy extraction would create a wave shadow because it would remove the energy from the surf.
“It will not just affect the height, it will also affect the quality of the surf.
“Surfers voting for this are like turkeys voting for Christmas.”
While Andrew Knight of Surfers Against Sewage stance is that it should not make a noticeable impact most of the time:
“We are satisfied that it is a good thing and we are backing it.
“You have to consider the long-term environmental gains and they outweigh any small impact on wave heights.”
If plans get government approval, construction may start as early as the beginning of 2007.