Our reports on new plans for a water-ski and wakeboarding park at East Bute Dock next to Atlantic Wharf has sparked plenty of online debate in recent weeks.
If approved by Cardiff council’s planning committee, the plans would see a 735m-long cable-tow water ski system installed at East Bute Dock.
Atlantic Wharf residents living near the dock, however, have raised concerns over noise, parking, water quality, algae and the impact on wildlife.
Here, Gareth Stevenson, operations director of Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding, the company behind the planning application, addresses those issues:
The cable ski development and the surrounding area
The area around Bute East Dock has been neglected over many years – the walkways have broken up in areas and the hedges overgrown. There is also an on-going problem with litter around and on the dock water.
Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding (CBW) will commit to keeping the dock waters and the surrounding areas clear of litter and will work to help towards keeping the pathways in good order.
CBW have been involved with Keep Wales Tidy and The Atlantic Wharf Residents’ Association (AWRA) during a the recent AWRA Spring Clean-up using the CBW powerboat to access the dock to enable the collection of litter that would otherwise be inaccessible from the dock edge. The litter collection from the dock is on-going and takes place each time the boat is launched to collect water samples for laboratory analysis.
The cable park will bring people to a new exciting leisure facility that is close to both Cardiff Bay and Cardiff city centre. The development will be beneficial to local businesses and will provide much needed local employment.
The cable ski system proposed by CBW for Bute East Dock is run by an electric motor which will be located 26m from the dock edge adjacent to the Boat Shed. The motor and all other mechanical elements of the cable system are non-polluting.
A noise assessment has been carried out at the site which has been submitted with the planning application, this states: “The noise level from the proposed operation has been calculated to be
significantly below the existing background noise levels at both of the agreed assessment positions and is unlikely to have a significant noise impact.”
The cable park will operate between the end of March and the end of October each year and during specific times each day.
CBW scoped all aspects of the planning application with Cardiff Council and no habitat issues were raised during this process. We will fully co-operate with all departments of Cardiff Council and all external agencies to ensure harmony between the cable system and the wildlife within the dock area.
CBW are currently working with ecologists who are advising on the proposed development and its place within the local environment.
There are over 200 cable sites worldwide using the system that we propose for Bute East Dock. These all have an assortment of wildlife living in and around the water and cable systems.
The closest system to Cardiff is WMSki in the Cotswolds Water Park. The Cotswold Water Park Trust works with all the local authorities, landowners, environmental organisations and businesses to
achieve a careful balance between development, recreation and nature conservation. The Cotswold Water Park Trust states these key facts regarding the wildlife:
– Internationally and nationally important for wintering wildfowl
– Nationally important for breeding birds such as Great Crested Grebe and Little Ringed Plover
– Many species that are declining nationally are either stable or increasing in the Water Park including Nightingale, Reed Bunting and Tree Sparrows
– Up to 200 species of bird visit the Cotswold Water Park each year
– A thriving Otter population and an expanding Water Vole population
– Regionally important dragonfly populations
The cable systems’ electric motor guarantees that neither the water nor air is polluted. Studies have found that biological endangered waters get oxygenated by the action of skiers and wake boarders on the water’s surface which help with regeneration.
The owners of the Wharf Pub car park have been consulted and there is sufficient capacity to accommodate CBW’s requirements within the available space even at peak times.
The cable ski has nine pickups available for riders – riders are attached to the main cable upon request.
CBW will limit the number of people using the cable to a maximum of 30 at any one time – to keep the number of people waiting to ride the cable to a minimum.
We will encourage participants to car share, to use the local transport available and to access the site by foot and cycle (cycle stands will be available).
Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding have been testing the water quality weekly at Bute East Dock since March 2011 and the results show the water quality to be consistently better than the highest level of compliance for the Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC).
Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding have met and taken advice from Public Health Wales and the local Public Protection Department.
Blue Green Algae
Blue Green algae will potentially bloom in any fresh water area worldwide if the nutrient levels that feed the algae are above a certain level.
Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding are currently involved in a study with Cardiff University to monitor the nutrient levels in the dock that could cause blue/green algae blooms.
We are looking at a number of potential solutions to discourage blue/green algae blooms.