Bombs away

Building an offshore wind farm off the coast of the UK? We hope you’ve got some explosives experts on your payroll, because, if recent history offers any guidance, you’re going to need them.

E.ON certainly did in early August, when it detonated two World War II legacy explosives off the coast of Brighton and Hove to clear the way for the underground sea cable connecting the 400MW Rampion offshore wind farm to the coast. That gave the locals standing on Lancing Beach a nice, big splash, especially as one of the bombs was a 500lb explosive.

Here’s the kicker though: Rampion is far from an isolated case. In fact, a whole industry is coalescing around the need to defuse the UK’s seabed, in the wake of unprecedented offshore wind farm construction.

“Today, 60 per cent of our renewables work is UXO-related,” geophysicist Caroline Tweedle, from marine survey contractor Bibby HydroMap, told The Engineer. UXO is geophysicist code for unexploded ordnance, or devices to be blown up, for the laymen.

I guess you really can’t make an omelette without blowing up some eggs.