Diving within the Rampion site

Sea user safety remains of paramount importance to the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm team as construction nears completion.

While we recognise the Sussex coast is a popular area for diving with a number of sites of interest, it is strongly recommended that diving is avoided on the export cable route and within 100 metres (m) of turbines and the substation, until construction works are complete.

As at the end of April 2018:

  • Array construction is largely complete
  • Turbine installation is complete with all 116 turbines now connected to grid
  • Array cable works are complete but divers should remain 100m from turbines and substation
  • Export cable route works will continue until full operation in autumn 2018
  • Caution and vigilance must always be maintained in respect of high-speed traffic

Construction works

Construction of Rampion has continued apace with the last of 116 turbine installations completed in September 2017, just six months after the first turbine was installed. All the turbines are now connected to the grid and operational, but they may not be turning from time to time due to ongoing testing and commissioning works throughout the site.  This process will continue for some months before full operation, expected this autumn.

The inter array cables – those connecting the turbines to the offshore substation – were all installed in 2016 and 2017.  However, due to some harder ground in parts of the site, a small proportion of these were shallow buried, which meant the area had to remain closed to diving activities.  We have now completed our rock placement operations so they are safely buried to within a radius of 100m from each turbine.

The cables are connected to the turbines through two holes, situated at the bottom of each foundation close the seabed. In order to make this connection, the cables need to be raised as they approach the foundation location, such that they become shallow buried or exposed when close to the turbines.  A more robust cable protection solution, known as ‘rock bagging’, is required in these locations to ensure the cable cannot become exposed and a large construction vessel will be undertaking these works in May 2018.

Divers are advised to remain at least 100m from turbines and the substation, and 500m from the construction vessel, while we complete the rock bagging works.  Beyond this restriction, we are pleased to announce that divers are now free to dive within the wind farm array.  However,it remains your responsibility to be aware of all admiralty charts and associated navigation advice in relation to wind farm installations and buried subsea cables.

Construction continues on the export cable route, which will need to remain closed for diving until autumn 2018, as there are too many operations happening over the next six months. Those considering diving in this area later in the year must keep themselves properly informed of up-to-date Notices to Mariners as we come to open up sections of the cable route.

High-speed construction traffic

Divers’ attention is drawn to work boats and high-speed crew transfer vessels (CTV), transiting between the wind farm site and Newhaven Port, Brighton Marina and Shoreham Port. The chart below shows the area in which high-speed CTVs are operating.

For your own safety, if you are an independent diver planning a local dive trip within the Area of CTV Operations using your own vessel, you are requested to familiarise yourself with the risks and follow the communications protocol set out in our Guidance for third party vessels on Rampion CTV operationsIn particular, vessels are requested to communicate in advance their passage plans and activities to the Rampion Marine Coordination Centre (MCC) on 07816 648 082 or email: leadmc@rampionoffshore.com.

You should also contact the MCC upon departure from port or prior to the dive itself, ensuring you communicate the following:

  • Name of wreck or location of the site you are planning to dive;
  • Expected time of arrival and departure;
  • Vessel name and Call Sign;
  • Number of divers expected in the water.

If the MCC cannot be contacted, the Rampion Guard Vessel should be contacted on VHF Ch.16.

If you do go diving in the Area of CTV Operations please be extra vigilant, especially for fast moving CTVs. Following completion of construction in the autumn, we will review the Area of CTV Operations when we expect there will be a reduced area for a limited number of operational CTVs transiting from Newhaven only.

If you are seeking to charter a vessel in the local area for your dive trip, the dive charters listed here are cooperating with the Rampion construction team.

They are kept regularly informed of construction activities and associated hazards contained in our Weekly Notices of Operations and Notices to Mariners. They have an obligation to implement the communications protocol and keep us updated on diving activities. Please note this is neither a positive nor negative endorsement of any particular dive charter by Rampion.

To receive our Weekly Notices of Operations and Notices to Mariners, please email us your details and we will add you to the distribution list.

Advertising notices explaining the current status of the wind farm and updating divers with this information have been published in diving magazines.

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