SMRU Takes Part in Post-Consent Monitoring Report
SMRU Marine, along with Fugro EMU, the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), formed the team which were commissioned to conduct a comprehensive post consent monitoring review of 19 offshore wind farms.
The review was commissioned and published by Cefas (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), and makes recommendations that resolve to improve monitoring for the protection of the environment, tackle the concerns of stakeholders and help adapt to real world issues experienced by developers.
The project looked at the core environmental monitoring topics of physical processes, underwater noise, benthic ecology, fish and shellfish ecology, marine mammals and birds. The ultimate aim of the review was to make recommendations for maximizing the effectiveness of the licensing process and future monitoring. Fugro EMU, who led the project, partnered with SMRU Marine to cover the marine mammal aspects.
SMRU Marine’s goal was to examine how the data collected during post-consent monitoring at offshore wind farms have provided evidence for impacts on marine mammals as well as to explore whether the post-consent monitoring was appropriate and fit for purpose.
The assessment of the data resulted in recommendations being made, across all topic areas, to improve the monitoring systems associated with, for example, knowledge exchange, links between sectors, and format of both consent conditions and monitoring reports.
The review highlighted the importance of data availability and how it can be used more efficiently to obtain more value from monitoring programs. Reducing the uncertainty of potential environmental impacts will ultimately allow for better scoping in the future, whilst putting the spotlight back on the need to focus the EIA process on true environmental risks. These risks can then be addressed in the environmental statement with greater confidence in the impact significance and the appropriateness of mitigation measures proposed.
The ability to utilise knowledge gained through environmental monitoring will see improvements for both regulators and developers, ultimately reducing the costs, resources and time associated with the consenting process.
Carol Sparling, Principal Scientists for SMRU Marine, says:
"We thoroughly enjoyed working with Fugro EMU, NPL and BTO on this project to explore ways to improve the licencing and monitoring processes. This report pulls together current knowledge on impacts of offshore wind and will hopefully help maximise learning on future projects. . We look forward to seeing how this review can help regulators and developers and the environment in the future."
Press Release, April 17, 2014; Image: