APEM Assesses Rampion Wind Farm Impact on Birds

  • Environment

A proposed wind farm off the coast of Sussex has gained consent with important input from ornithologists at APEM, who carried out further assessment work on the wind farm’s potential impacts on migratory birds, including gannet, gulls, terns, waders and wildfowl during the examination of the project.

APEM Assesses Rampion Wind Farm Impact on Birds

The Rampion wind farm is being developed by E.ON and would consist of up to 175 turbines sited about 13 km off the coast near Brighton. It could generate up to 700 MW of electricity, enough to power about 450,000 homes.

A range of migratory birds can be found in the area of the proposed wind farm at different times of year. Under the tight time frames of the examination, experts at APEM were able to model the migration routes taken by the birds with the help of the company’s recently developed Migropath software.

Detailed research focused on ten key species in particular, including the brent goose, common scoter, gannet, kittiwake, lesser black-backed gull, common tern and arctic tern.

Migratory birds are a critical consideration when seeking development consent for offshore wind farms, making high quality expert advice a key consideration.

As well as complex migration modelling, APEM also provided expert opinion during the examination at issue specific hearings into the proposed wind farm on behalf of the developers. The company’s expert, Dr Roger Buisson, provided written responses to questions from the examining panel and also appeared in person at the hearing to answer questions from the panel.

The company’s ornithologists were able to advise that the impacts on migratory birds were likely to be minimal. The migratory routes of the birds and the heights at which they fly, combined with widely spaced wind turbines, means that collisions would be unlikely.

APEM is currently working on a number of offshore wind farms at different stages of development. The company provides aerial seabird and marine mammal surveys before, during and after construction, in order to help monitor possible impacts on marine species.

APEM has flown over 300 digital seabird and marine mammal surveys and worked on Round One, Two and Three offshore wind farms around the UK, as well as providing surveys in continental Europe and the USA. Clients include the UK based regulators and a long list of developers operating in the UK market.

Vaughan Weighill, Rampion project manager, said: “APEM came into the project at short notice and were able to get to grips with the particular issues of the project very quickly and provided an excellent standard of work. At the hearings Dr Buisson was able to explain the complex issues that surround ornithology very clearly bringing his experience to bear.”

Dr Roger Buisson, principal ornithologist at APEM, said: “It has been a pleasure to be involved with the Rampion proposals. As a lifelong ornithologist I’m happy to have been able to provide detailed but clear information and advice that helped the secretary of state to understand the issues around potential impacts on migratory birds and to conclude that the wind farm could be given consent.”

E.ON is currently planning the detailed delivery of the project with offshore construction potentially starting in early 2016.

Press release, August 18, 2014; Image: APEM
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