Acoustic fish deterrent (AFD) technology is constantly evolving. Better understanding of individual species and how they behave, new techniques and familiarity with different environments help experts implement more effective and efficient systems.

Since Hinkley Point C first received a Development Consent Order, AFD technology has progressed to overcome earlier concerns about maintenance schedules and all requirements of the system specification have been met. Some of the latest developments include:

  • Improved ROV capability – Fish Guidance Systems has presented a detailed argument advocating the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to address safety concerns in the maintenance of Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) systems at Hinkley Point C.
  • Active Pressure Compensation System (APCS) – developed by FGS to resolve the operational and maintenance challenges of tidal changes at less accessible sites.
  • Underwater Power and Communication Hubs – FGS has developed new hubs that will allow Sound Projectors to be located at greater distances from the Control Equipment.  These hubs have been upgraded with both communications and and power components having built-in dual redundancy, to provide even greater reliability. 
  • Remote Operation and Monitoring – giving users the ability to set different levels of access, with daily emails reporting on the condition of systems.
  • Maintenance Regime Improvements – the latest projectors require servicing every 18 to 24 months, rather than annually, and the inclusion of APCS can extend this beyond 36 months. Where divers are required to carry out manual tasks, these can be streamlined to reduce the time spent underwater.

The Hinkley Point C Development Consent Order was upheld on the basis that a combination of all three measures – LVSE intake, AFDs and FRR – should be installed and operated at the site. It is estimated by official reports that up to 182 million fish will be prevented from dying from the intake each year.

The AFD is required to make the fish protection system work because it deters fragile fish (such as sprat and shad) that will die if they come into contact with the fish return system at the end of the power station’s two vast cooling tunnels.

The Government’s report and recommendations can be read here.

Environmental campaigners have accused EDF of “deliberately avoiding” installing measures at the Hinkley Point C which would prevent the new nuclear processing plant from killing millions of fish, when it eventually comes into operation.

Groups such as the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Somerset Wildlife Trust have fought for four years to insist that EDF installs an acoustic fish deterrent, which it signed up to when the initial planning was granted. This would save the lives of aquatic animals in the Severn Estuary, which would otherwise be trapped and killed in the cooling water systems. Fish under threat include cod and whiting, while migratory species such as Atlantic salmon and shad will have a 90% death rate if trapped in the processing system.

Jo Smoldon of the campaign group Stop Hinkley said: “EDF are refusing to comply with the environmental conditions which they agreed to at the outset, to protect the marine life of the Severn Estuary and its nine great rivers. Why on earth are EDF still not wanting to save the fish? This latest excuse undermines the technology that was put in place to protect the fish. For the last seven years EDF have refused to engage with Fish Guidance Systems, who were asked by EDF to provide the technology which they are now discrediting!”

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