British eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince has unveiled an electric hovercraft which he hopes will help restore seagrass meadows in the waters around the UK.
The millionaire, who also owns vegan football club Forest Green Rovers, said the craft, has made its test run on grass at Bicester Airfield in Oxfordshire and that testing on water is next.
It’s hoped the latest green invention from the United Nations Climate Champion – who also owns Ecotricity dubbed ‘Britain’s greenest energy company’, could help in the fight against the climate crisis by saving seagrass meadows.
Seagrass meadows that are found in shallow salty waters in many parts of the world, are diverse and productive ecosystems that can support hundreds of species and an array of biodiversity.
So-called because of their long green, grass-like leaves, they evolved around 100 million years ago and today there are approximately 72 different seagrass species. However, they have been disappearing at an alarming pace.
An estimated 92 per cent of the UK’s seagrass meadows have been lost due to urban, industrial, and agricultural pollution run-off, coastal development, unregulated fishing activities, and climate change causing rising water temperatures.
Seagrass Meadows Crucial for Climate
Restoring meadows is vital for ocean health. Seagrass meadows protect coastlines from erosion, absorb harmful pollutants, and provide safe nursing grounds for species from codfish to seahorses.
Able to sequester carbon at 35 times the rate of rain forests, seagrass meadows are also a powerful weapon against climate change.
The 61 year old said: ‘I was talking to people doing seagrass rewilding… and I mentioned the hovercraft to them and they said that could be the perfect thing for collecting seeds because they have to go into the Severn Estuary which is tidal mudflats.
Vince has since offered the craft to Sea Shepherd UK, a non-profit marine wildlife conservation organisation, who will be using it as early as next year for marine protection projects including the protection and rewilding of seagrass meadows.
And the 61-year-old added he has wanted to build a hovercraft since he was a child.
‘When I was a kid, I wanted to make a hovercraft. I got a book for the library at school, and I learned all of the fundamentals of a hovercraft. And I figured I could build one, and I could go to school in it and that was my crazy idea. I didn’t have any money. So I couldn’t get the bits but I really wanted to build one.’
Among Vince’s other projects are an electric supercar called Nemesis and an electric super bike called Ion Horse.
Forest Green FC, recognised by the UN as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club, play in kit made from recycled plastic and coffee grounds.