Ørsted Artificial Nesting Structure

Ørsted’s Hornsea 3 Artificial Nesting Structures Ready to House Kittiwakes

Ørsted has commissioned three nearshore artificial nesting structures (ANS) designed to house Black-legged kittiwake off the East Suffolk coastline as part of plans to compensate for the potential impacts of the Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm on the species.

Ørsted Artificial Nesting Structure

The structures, fabricated by Suffolk-based Red7Marine and Four Tees Engineering, are located approximately one kilometre offshore, with one close to the Minsmere Nature Reserve and the other two located near South Beach, Lowestoft.

These nearshore locations place the structures close to existing, thriving kittiwake colonies while minimising disturbance to local residents and business owners, said Ørsted.

“Kittiwake are listed as at risk from extinction and with climate change as a key driver to their decline, a move towards a green energy system could help considerably in the long-term conservation of the species. In the meantime, the provision of these structures will provide a safe, nesting space to enable future generations to raise young away from predators and out of town centres”, said Eleni Antoniou, Environmental Manager at Ørsted.

A team of architects, engineers and ecologists were commissioned to design the structures in collaboration with local stakeholders and an Offshore Ornithology Engagement Group, which includes Natural England, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).


Each ANS comprises an octagonal topside with a capacity for around 500 breeding pairs of kittiwake supported above the water on a single monopile. The roof pitch and overhang were designed to mitigate avian predators, according to the global offshore wind developer.

The nesting faces have alternating rows of fully partitioned, open, and semi-partitioned ledges. This experimental design should provide insight into the nesting preferences of kittiwake and help inform future compensation projects for the industry.

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Individual nesting spaces are fitted with a sliding Perspex panel which should allow researchers to view the kittiwake from inside the structures without the birds being able to see them, as well as allowing for safe handling for monitoring purposes.

Two cameras have been installed on each ANS to capture birds prospecting and nesting attempts.

Ørsted said it will also continue to monitor the existing colonies in Lowestoft and Sizewell for the lifetime of the ANS. Additionally, Ørsted is providing an initial GBP 50,000 of funding to the Lowestoft Kittiwake Partnership, which aims to safeguard nesting birds.

“This is a first of its kind project that required a great deal of collaborative work with stakeholders, architects, engineers and ecologists to develop a bespoke solution. We have already had our first kittiwake visitor to the structures and look forward to seeing our first long-term residents”, said Antoniou.

Located 160 kilometres from the Yorkshire coast, the Hornsea Three offshore wind farm was awarded a Contract for Difference (CfD) in July 2022.

The project is planned to be commissioned in 2027 with a generation capacity of 2,852 MW. Once completed, it will be able to produce enough electricity to power 3.2 million UK homes, according to the developer.


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