New research to enhance Swansea Bay marine environment

Swansea University and Tidal Lagoon Power have launched new research to investigate opportunities for enhancing the marine and coastal environments of Swansea Bay through design alterations of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

‌The research is organised through the project Seacams 2, a three-year project managed through Swansea University and Bangor University and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support industry-academia collaborations in the marine economy and marine renewable energy.

Professor Kam Tang of the Biosciences Department at the College of Science who is the principal investigator of Seacams2 at Swansea University said: “Seacams2 is supporting the growth of marine and coastal businesses in the marine renewable energy and affiliated sectors via state-of-the-art collaborative research activities with industry; the six projects with Tidal Lagoon Power are examples of how the industry can benefit from Swansea University’s research excellence.”

The Seacams2 research led by Dr John Griffin with Tidal Lagoon Power will be investigating how to optimize the design of the tidal lagoon walls to enhance native biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. At the same time, research is underway to increase understanding of how sand dunes protect the coastlines and recover after storms.

Marine habitats are increasingly modified by infrastructure deployed for marine renewable energy plants such as the proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay. Artificial reef structures have the potential to mitigate effects on the natural environment and enrich biodiversity by diversifying the substrate.

Building on research of the previous Seacams project in collaboration with the Salix, tests for the effect of reef mattresses in sublittoral areas will be carried out with Tidal Lagoon Power in Swansea Bay.

Different types of material will be trialed under various levels of exposure. The results will not only inform TLP about the effectiveness of reef-mattresses for Swansea Bay but also for other planned lagoons.

Research is also underway to increase understanding of the potential to restore seagrass meadows.

Within Seacams2, College of Engineering research led by Dr Iain Fairley from the Coastal Engineering Group is helping to develop novel survey strategies for the beaches around Swansea Bay. Use of terrestrial laser scanners and survey drones will enable cost-effective monitoring in high resolution.

This level of detail will enable greater understanding of the natural variability of beaches in the region and hence the lagoon’s potential impacts.