Extensive Bird Survey Undertaken on Dogger Bank, UK
Carried out by environmental specialists from Gardline Environmental and HiDef Aerial Surveying, the extensive surveys were commissioned to enable Forewind to gather vital information about the species and numbers of bird and marine mammal species, their distributions and seasonal variations across the 8660km2 zone. The information will be used to help Forewind plan the layout and design of the offshore wind development proposed for Dogger Bank.
Starting in January 2010, the vessels have surveyed more than 40,000 kilometres in transects, while trained observers recorded their findings using the industry accepted collaborative offshore wind research into the environment (COWRIE) methodology. This involved recording birds sitting on the water and their distance from the boat, as well as recording snapshots of birds flying to the front or side of the vessel at one-minute intervals.
The aerial surveys also covered more than 180,000 kilometres in transects, with a bank of four digital video cameras attached to an aircraft recording all objects within a 200 metre wide swathe. The videos are reviewed on return and images of birds and marine mammals are marked, before being identified by experienced ornithologists and marine mammal observers from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Consultancy.
Forewind Head of Offshore Development, Gareth Lewis said the combined effort of this work makes it the largest such survey of its kind ever undertaken. It will provide a wealth of data for not only Forewind, but for nature conservation organisations, other commercial bodies and statutory authorities in the UK and Europe.
“We have followed best practice guidance throughout and gathered information about the heights and directions birds fly, their species, ages, and population sizes, as well as any migrating birds and marine mammals including whales, dolphins and porpoises,” Mr Lewis said.
The British Trust for Ornithology, which has more than 80 years’ experience in this area, will use the data to do seabird population modelling and methodological reviews and ensure the results are statistically robust. Statistical modelling consultancy DMP Stats will undertake the modelling work for the marine mammal populations.
“We will use the models of population densities to predict such issues as displacement and collision risk and they will enable us to assess possible effects of the Dogger Bank development on marine wildlife and develop appropriate avoidance or mitigation measures,” he said.
“Working in this challenging environment to such a thorough specification has taken a mammoth effort by all the teams involved and I would like to add Forewind has appreciated the professionalism and dedication shown by everyone involved.”
While this first phase of surveys is complete, further ornithological and marine mammal surveys will be required as part of Forewind’s on-going environmental impact assessment.
Offshore WIND staff, July 5, 2012; Image: Forewind