Joanna Lumley calls for WW2 bombs being cleared for wind farms to be quietly ‘burnt out’ because blowing them up is making dolphins deaf!
Some 100,000 tonnes of unexploded munitions lurk in the waters around Britain before wind farms can be built, these bombs must be cleared from the sea bed however, detonating them can directly harm and deafen marine mammals.
Ms Lumley and marine conservation charities are calling for a better approach ‘Low order deflagration’ can destroy bombs both more quietly but also cheaply. Actress Joanna Lumley has called on wind farm developers to stop blowing up unexploded WWII bombs in the seas around Britain because she says it deafens whales and dolphins.
It is estimated that some 100,000 tonnes of unexploded wartime munitions lurk in Britain’s waters — much of which needs clearing to make way for new wind farms, but the traditional way of disposing of these bombs on the seabed – blowing them up with another explosive device — has the potential to harm marine life.
Not only can blast waves physically injure whales and dolphins, but the sound of the explosion can damage their hearing, which is key for navigation and communication. Confused and disoriented by the sounds, the marine mammals can end up stranded on beaches and shorelines — a situation which can easily prove fatal.
“The continued use of the blow-it-up approach is completely nuts”, Ms. Lumley said — “especially given that there is a far less dangerous approach available.”
“To date, detonating large ordnance in the marine environment has been a necessary method in attempts to build offshore wind capacity that will enable us to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Marine Connection co-founder Liz Sandeman.
Despite the end benefits, she explained, ‘detonating 500-kilogram explosives has far more serious consequences that cannot be fully mitigated — including auditory damage to marine mammals.’
‘It’s crazy to me that wind farm developers — aided by government regulations that are far too relaxed — are able to just blow-up bombs that are leftover from the Second World War,’ said Ms. Lumley.
‘Of course, we need to be finding new ways of getting our energy, such as offshore wind power – I fully support that.’
‘It just seems completely nuts to me that we are allowing these giant explosions to cause considerable harm to some of our most precious whale and dolphin species when there is a viable alternative available — and a British-inspired one too.’
The low-order deflagration was developed by Chippenham-based explosives company Alford Technologies back in the early 2000s — and has the added advantage of being cheaper to implement than its less subtle counterpart.
Ms. Lumley has teamed up with animal welfare organizations Advocating Wild, Marine Connection, and the World Cetacean Alliance to launch the Stop Sea Blasts campaign and help minimize the harm to our sea life. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done by the detonation technique.
In 2011, for example, 39 long-finned pilot whales became stranded — and 19 eventually perished — at the Kyle of Durness, an inlet on the north coast of Scotland, after they entered the bay at high tide.
A Government report subsequently concluded that bomb disposal operations in the area in the days leading up to the tragedy were ‘the only external event with the potential to cause the whale stranding.
Experts estimate that each detonation may cause up to 60 marine mammals to lose their hearing. At present, some 50 such explosions are unleashed in British waters each year — a figure likely to rise as demands for wind farm construction increase.
‘For whales and dolphins […] ammunition removal by blasting is a particular hazard as it can cause severe physical injury, hearing loss or death.’
‘Less harmful, evidence-based alternatives are available — and government regulators and wind farm developers should immediately take notice.’
Stop Sea Blasts has launched a petition on Change.org.