Dogger Bank Science Fiction

I wrote my first serious science fiction piece in 1993 about an artificial island on the Dogger Bank. Now it is being turned into reality by Danish, Dutch and German firms. Where are the British in this consortium? They are needed more than ever.

The Science Fiction:

Here is the piece, severely edited since 1993 due to my improving writing skills:

The View

That strange interregnum between the last of the winter storms and the first blossoming of spring held sway over the land. The dull clouds portended yet more rain, dampening the air and drowning the hope of better things to come.

Occasional beams of sunlight broke through. One such shone on the extensive glasshouse canopy to the southeast, turning it into a solitaire diamond on a low grassy plateau.

From it, a black line of road curved down and made a beeline for the west. Behind it a yellow sandbank, with its grey-green patches of saltwort and marram grass, rose up to the abrupt horizontal line of the seawall’s hidden rampart. Without either sandbank or wall, the land would have long since sunk beneath the battering waves of the North Sea. The road disappeared into a wind farm that, at this distance, had the aerofoils looking like delicate white toy windmills, their blades ceaselessly turning.

The road reappeared, to come northward on a ridge to a village, where the orderly terrace houses with their immaculate vegetable plots and scrappy chicken runs surrounded the village hall, general store and hotel. All were bedecked with the dark blue sheen of solar panels, much needed to ward off the biting cold of the winds. At the northern end of the village, the preserved wreck of a wooden ship stood with quiet dignity beside a long low hut that housed a maritime museum.

Spurs of gravel embanked tracks led off the road to various farmhouses and barns. Their owners were custodians of the precious green and brown acreage that stretched out in every direction, even encroaching to the very edge of the nearby fish pools. This agricultural land was broken into regimented squares and rectangles by dark chilly-looking canals, a lot mere drainage ditches, but a few were large enough to carry barges. Near some farms, power-generating waterwheels fitted snugly in the step down in levels along the canals.

Fields were linked at one or two corners by grass covered bridges wide enough to hold farm gates whose design had stood the test of centuries. On the odd green field slowly wandered the white, cream and black blobs of sheep, ducks and geese. Most of the fallow fields were lined with the furrows from the plough and were awaiting their spring seeds. Here and there, were lines of trees; straight bare plane trees were lower down whilst the gnarled and twisted willows were higher, acting as wind breaks.

The four fish pools, remnants of the days when this was just a fish farm, were covered by a fine translucent netting to ward off the ever-squawking, wheedling gulls. The wind ignored the obstacle to make the pools ripple and dance in pretty patterns.

Such was the view now through the window of the old lighthouse on Dogger Isle, once the Dogger Bank twenty metres and more below the North Sea.

***

This was the seed of for my first novel about the fishing industry. It’s the first novel every writer has to draft to learn the craft and then forget about. But I did send submit this piece to various markets, all of which turned it down.

In the process of writing the novel I also learned a lot about the Dogger Bank and its environs. It’s a kind of nexus point for many things in the North Sea, which I will get onto later in this article.

The Proposed Technology:

Now comes the news that an agreement between Danish, Dutch and German firms is going to be signed on 23rd March to plan to put an island on the Dogger Bank as the centre of a major wind farm. It will have a port and an airport. See here. This is the artist’s impression from the article done by Energiet.dk

It looks like to me that all this dedicated to the maintenance of the wind farms. This is at best naive and ill thought out.

[Remember, I’ve written a whole novel about this area!]

Dogger Bank Features:

The Dogger Bank is what I call a powerhouse for the North Sea in so many different ways that all the consequences need to be considered. These include:

  1. The largest known British earthquake occurred near the Dogger Bank in 1931, with a magnitude of 6.1. It was powerful enough to cause minor damage to buildings on the east coast of England, despite being 60 miles offshore. So anything they build will have to have extra anti-earthquake strengthening features.
  2. The Dogger Bank is a centre in the North Sea for spawning and growing fish. If they build an island as shown in the picture above, the fish will lose some of the spawning grounds, which means the fishermen will have their source fish reduced, and there will be less food that can be caught in the North Sea. So they need to work in compensation aspects to allow the same number of fish to be spawned.
  3. The Dogger Bank is at the centre of what is known as a gyre (one of two main ones to the east of the UK). This the sea equivalent of a tornado. Because it is peaceful here, sand etc is deposited here (which is why it’s a spawning ground). Like any centre of a tornado it controls to the large extent the way the surrounding seas flow. This includes shores of Norfolk where they cause coastal erosion, the sandy Spurn Point that protects the Humber from viciousness of the North Sea and the height of tidal surges, the largest of which have had devastating effects all along the eastern coast. One possible (to be determined) effect is that the Thames Barrier will cease to be effective against the worst of these tidal surges. So they need to determine the impact on the sea tides of the North Sea and put in measures to stop any nasty erosion and devastation effects along the east coast.

Back to the Science Fiction:

I catered for all three aspects in my novel. It changed the island in many different ways, ways that require some interesting new technology. One solution can be drawn on some unique British technology I was at the time, using my instinct as a systems engineer  – a kind of engineering that pulls different types of technology together in a coherent useful form.

As a science fiction writer, I’m not willing to let my fiction go for no pay. So, I’m not going to publish what my potential solutions are.

This all demonstrates the need for more science fiction, not less.

And yet, the publishers continue to fail to acknowledge this. They are indirectly damaging the future prospects of mankind. They are failing humanity.

Way Ahead:

I shall be writing to MP and MEPs pointing out the above problems. Doing nothing is not an option here.

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3 thoughts on “Dogger Bank Science Fiction

    1. Hello Sarah,
      As it stands, the principle is good as this is the best place for wind generation in the UK and its surrounding waters for technology reasons. It’s the delivery method as described that has quite a few flaws (as in the post). Some can be designed out. Others can be avoided.
      The real biggie is that there are other ways of making the island useful, which incidentally helps with getting rid of the design problems. Not a single one was discussed. For example in my descriptive piece I talk about fish farms. For the embryonic island it should be fish nurseries.
      On the political front, what does this do to the line drawn for international waters?
      Sorry if this is starting to sound like a rant, but there is just so much wrong with this proposal.

      1. Don’t apologise! I’m in total agreement with you. We’re increasingly being governed around the world by folks who scribble ideas on the backs of envelopes and then shout, ‘Make it so!’ without doing the legwork to ensure it’s the RIGHT idea in the right place and being executed in the right way…

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