Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding addresses residents’ concerns over cable ski park proposal

May 24, 2012 29 Comments »

An artist’s impression of what the proposed cable and pylons that would make up the water-ski and wakeboarding park next to the Atlantic Wharf housing development

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).

Water quality

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.

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  1. John Thayer May 24, 2012 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I regularly walk along the public thoroughfare alongside Bute East Dock to walk from Cardiff Bay into town. Will this walkway route be cut off? This is a beautiful area, why do these poeple have the right to take over a public area for commercial gain? It will be detrimental to walkers in this area, & fishermen who regularly fish in this dock & most of all residents. This area is not covered in waste & is not neglegted (as your picture shows). I object to this development.

  2. J Scott May 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Gareth Stevenson's comments are totally misleading… He compares the proposed development at East Bute Dock to WMSki at Cotswolds Water Park.. There is no comparison at all. If you look at the website WMSki operates from lake 11 of 150 lakes set in 40 square miles of countryside !!

  3. Resident May 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    The dock is looking better than it has for many years due to a concerted effort by those who actually live here to clean the litter, maintain the pathways and encourage the abundant wildlife. If Mr Stevenson was a resident of the area he would know for example that the brick work and railings around Admirals Landings have been tidied up and well maintained in recent years. This is because the residents care about this area. The planning application put forward by Mr Stevenson goes to some lengths to malign our community and I don't think that's an appropriate way to try and force in his narrow and financial interests.

    Mr Stevenson, you have described our community as a

    “bleak, desolate unwelcoming area…unmitigated by any meaningful uses…scarcely overlooked with little visual amenity value at all….a hostile area…a neglected space quite intimidating to the casual observer ”.

    And that just shows little you know of or have even considered the lives of those who live here.

  4. Huw May 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I also walk round the dock and work in one of the adjacent buildings – I have no objection to the plans as long as people are still able to enjoy this oasis of nature in the centre of Cardiff.

  5. Residents May 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Further points for Mr Stevenson to address

    1. Proper details of the proposed walkway across the dock
    2. Locations of CCTV cameras and public address system in relation to residents property and right to privacy.
    3. What are his thoughts on the level of noise that riders will make when using the facility especially at 8pm on a sunday night?
    4. Is it even remotely fair on the residents to put this eyesore across their properties and then add insult leave it dangling and unused for 6 months of the year?
    5. Are you going to do a proper marine survey of the debris on the bottom of the dock and are you going to test the sediments for accumulations of chemical pollutants which could be disturbed by users?

    These and many further points have been raised on the Cardiff Council Planning Application comments page which I would have hoped Mr Stevenson had taken the time to read before making the comments above.

    Furthermore, I watched the water sampling taking place this week, a man in a rib taking only a couple of samples for the whole dock and heading off home again after less than 20 minutes. No litter cleaning in sight sorry!

  6. Miss Idealistic May 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    If this area is to be "developed" then promote it as a lovely quiet place to see wildlife that has settled there.
    If I were a resident ( I just work in the Bay) I would be absolutely furious at this proposal. The mention of Cotswolds Water Parks made me laugh out loud as there are many many lakes there, each one has its own use and some are peaceful and quiet for residential purposes, and very far from each other, so the skiers/fishermen/walkers/dwellers all have their own lakes!
    CCC will surely not allow Associated British Ports to use their water ways for a five minute fad ( some folk just don't know enough about business and will pile their cash into anything).

  7. resident May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    As a local resident i am furious that these plans are even being considered, the wildlife that inhabit the dock is amazing, theres a pair of swans which have seven signets that have recently hatched, there are also otters living on there and at night they can regulary be seen and im pretty sure they are breeding. I have contacted the Cardiff Wildlife Trust who have arranged for the BBC to come down and film Springwatch down there as it is very rare to see otters in such an urban area. The effect that these proposed plans would cause would be devastating. I see that tests have been taken on the water quality on the dock but the only problem is these tests were carried out in the winter/early spring when the water is clear, these tests should be carried out in the hight of the summer when the dock is covered in surface weed and the water has its annual algae bloom where the water turns green like pea soup which contains high levels of toxic blue green algae.

  8. steve May 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Has anybody thought about the Otters, swans, geese, tuffted ducks, coots, kingfishers, dippers, herons, cormorants and great creasted grebes that live on the lake ?

  9. CFResident1 May 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I am saddened to see the hostile response from local residents to this development. I have been to the location myself and have noticed much litter in the water – which has been left there to the point that birds have actually begun using it in the construction of their nests. Mr Stevenson has apparently made a commitment to clearing up the water – perhaps it will even mean finally getting rid of the wrecked boat outside the pub!

    I understand that people resist change – for example there was outcry when the barrage was built. However, the barrage and resulting development transformed what was once an unpleasant (and even dangerous) area into a bustling new development, generating jobs for local people, and putting money into the local economy. There was also strong opposition to the development of the very apartments that the residents are complaining from!

    It seems from this article that any complaints about detrimental effect on wildlife, noise etc have been carefully considered and addressed. The area is next to a very busy dual carriageway and opposite a steelworks. Anyone with experience with electrical motors will find it difficult to understand how the proposed system could be louder than either of them.

    @ John Thayer – it seems the entire operation will be within the dock itself, I can't see any reason for, or mention of making changes to public walkways.

    • local_resident May 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      Whilst many visit this area and are of course entitled to their opinion, the people who know the area best and care for it most are its residents. Mr Stevenson and some(not all) of the day tripping wakeboarders posting have shown little understanding or due consideration for the people and the wildlife of this area beyond how it may affect their own narrow interests.

      • CFResident1 May 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm - Reply

        You don't appear to have been reading the same article that I have. The article above has a clear statement from the Cotswold Water Park Trust about the stability and in some cases increase of local wildlife (including many species cited by complainants, like otters). I do not disagree that the residents know the area best, but I believe the Trust have considerable experience in this area, and that should not be ignored. If the argument is about effect on wildlife, it seems to have been negated by evidence. If it is about people being not liking the idea, then perhaps they should say just that, rather than hiding behind small animals – who have been empirically proven to be unaffected by such developments.

        • local May 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm - Reply

          I really don't think there's been a shortage of people objecting to this idea in any respects. The wildlife of course doesn't have a voice and as such the residents amongst everyone else are making sure that those who don't know the Atlantic Wharf area know exactly what is at stake should this facility go ahead.

  10. rich.b May 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Wakeboarding ? The dock is way too small to have a cable tow system it will soon get boring, this WILL be yet another financial failure, it will be us residents that are left to pick up the pieces.

    Give up now Mr. Stevenson, your fighting a losing battle.

    • ab987 June 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      The Dock is definitely not too small. It is the same width as most cable parks (measured on google earth) and would not have been considered if otherwise.

  11. James May 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    eeeugh nimby's.

    you live in a city! Want a woefully underused body of water on your doorstep and move to the country.

    Jobs, activity, events. This is what we need.

    • local May 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Lazy sniping James. Read the planning application and then make an informed judgement.

  12. local_resident May 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    The flats in which I live here in Atlantic Wharf, overlooking the dock were built over twenty years ago. The area we live is a long way from the industrial wasteland of the eighties that Mr Stevenson is trying to paint. Atlantic Wharf IS developed and IS a fully functioning community of people and wildlife who all happily choose to live here. Insulting a whole area will get you nowhere. The residents have taken positive action to maintain the dock and the local environment and funnily enough nobody seems to have been crying out for a wakeboarding park these past couple of decades!

  13. Matt H May 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Best of luck with the proposals, this sounds like an excellent idea and a suitable addition to an area of mixed-uses. I'm sure planning conditions will be imposed to ensure issues of noise, parking and ecology are all respected.

  14. Jim May 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    nimby nimby nimby nimby nimby nimby. So selfish. Someone lives close to the power stations that power their homes. Someone lives above the pubs they frequent. Someone lives next to the roads they drive on.

    They think they can live in Cardiff and contribute nothing? Just selfish, pure selfish.

    Good luck to the guy proposing the wakeboarding. I hope it's a success.

  15. rich.b May 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    i wish i could upload a picture of the state of the algae bloom at this very moment over the wharf theres brown surface scum covering most of the lake and the water is bright green, anyone in they're right mind would not set foot in there, never mind wakeboarding !

    Mr. Stevenson i suggest you take some water tests now because its the hight of summer and that is when the toxic algae is at its peak.

  16. Wharf resident May 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    The residents have taken some positive action but not enough to prevent the decline in the walkway,s, lighting and litter in the area. As a resident whose flat overlooks the dock I am looking forward to the wakeboarding area and am eager to try it out! About time some investment was made in the area- ignore the other comments-I can't wait for it to be built

  17. Resident May 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Half an hours daytripper fun should never outweigh the lives of a whole community. The people who have really invested in this area are the ones who have worked and saved and made their homes here and take good care of Atlantic Wharf.

  18. Mick May 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Have you seen this SaveTheDock???

    • SaveTheDock June 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      I take your point entirely and have deleted my comment.
      However, I would like to say that I am happier with reporting that has both pros and cons in the same article rather than spread in two separate articles.
      I have now read the other article and feel that equilibrium of reporting is equitable.
      Thank you.

  19. Tom Gould May 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    i would like to appose the application for the wake board tow system as it would impact greatly on the wildlife that are resident in the old docks. it is one of few refuges for wild life that are left in the area as developments have just pushed all the wildlife out. besides skiing and wake boarding and water skiing are allowed in the bay through penarth water ski club who have been using the bay for at least six years now.
    after all cardiff bay is supposed to be Europe's most vibrant waterfront or at least that was how it was mentioned when it opened.

    • ab987 June 11, 2012 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Are you saying "as it would impact greatly on the wildlife that are resident in the old docks" from any profession viewpoint or is this your opinion of something you think that might happen?

  20. SaveTheDock June 16, 2012 at 1:58 am - Reply

    In the words of John Lennon…"They may say I'm a dreamer…but I'm not the only one!"
    The dock has been neglected, but the local wildlife has fought against this neglect…and is winning! (I kind of like that)
    I have this idea that the local council may spend a little less on fireworks (all flash and bang – but little persists) when promoting Cardiff. Maybe 10% of what they spend on fireworks may be invested for a longer term future…both for residents and visitors. (I like fireworks…but I consider the slow burn and majesty of nature is a better investment?)
    A wakeboarding installation may well give a minute proportion a brief thrill or two over a half hour for a few, and inconvenience the local population for a whole year (year-in-year out).
    My suggestion is to invest a small amount (less than 10% of money spent on fireworks) so as to promote the area?
    I kind of like the idea of grandmothers pushing prams and pointing out Cormorants,elegant Herons, graceful Swans and dabbling ducks around the dock. If they are lucky (VERY lucky) they might even see an otter.
    Can we please have willows gently kissing the dock waters? "Duck islands" to save the ducklings from the predations of pets? Soft 'verges' of rushes to provide hiding and safety for the local wildlife? Lillies (preferably flowering ones) to give protection for the fish?

    Imagine the Cardiff promotional value…'Only a few hundred yards from the hurly burly of the city centre and Bay you can find a rare inner-city sanctum of tranquility. Engage with wildlife unknown in most cities. Take the kids, take the grand-kids> Do they even know what a stickleback or a newt is????

    I would prefer it if we considered what we had, and preserved it, and enhanced it rather than continually invest in industrial style thrills.

    How "GREEN" is Cardiff council? (or is it all lip service?)

  21. Cardiff Resident July 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    I went down to the dock to see for myself, it's a boring unused dock opposite a very loud dual carrigeway which runs next to a steel works, did the residents who are going to sell up there property not notice these when they bought there flats? and there is a massive car park at the pub which i'm sure would be more than happy with the extra business so no parking issues. Cardiff needs things to happen it needs entrepreneurs like this man to boost Cardiff's image and to create jobs, you all know there is no issue with noise, there is no issue with pollution and wakeboarders are not going to steal all your cars! you all just need something to moan about in. stop been so negative and maybe work with this man to develop this idea that no doubt he has put much work into, get onboard with a positive attitude and maybe we could stop Cardiff falling further and further behind the rest of the UK, and dammit maybe some people might get to have a little fun too!

  22. Amer December 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    You may be interested to know a similar Planning application 97/00247c for ‘cable tow for watersports’ was refused 30/10/1997 for the following reasons:
    i. The proposal fails to provide for adequate car and coach parking
    particularly at peak times, which would result in on-street parking and
    congregation, to the detriment of highway safety and residential
    ii. The proposal, by virtue of its scale, and nature of operation would give
    rise to nuisance and disturbance which would be detrimental to the
    residential amenities of nearby residents and or the amenities of other
    iii. The proposal by reason of its size, siting and design is considered a
    visually obtrusive form of development which is detrimental to the
    visual amenities of the area.
    iv. Insufficient information has been submitted to allow the Local Planning
    Authority to properly assess the proposal in terms of water quality,
    health and safety issues and suitability of the proposed use for the

    What's changed ? Nothing as far as I can see

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