Types of research carried out

The COWRIE Steering Group identified the issues that we know least about and developed projects to help fill those gaps in our knowledge. The group felt that birds could suffer the biggest impact of offshore windfarm projects either due to displacement from their shallow water feeding areas or through the possible problem of collision impact as they flew through the windfarm at night or in poor weather.

Developers are required to collect bird data as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) they have to submit to gain planning consent for a windfarm. COWRIE put together a project that has given developers guidance on how best to conduct bird surveys so that the data collected is of the highest quality.

Underwater noise can be a particular problem for some marine animals, particularly whales, dolphins and seals. Underwater noise is generated when the foundations of the wind turbines are piled into the seabed. Studies have been carried out to assess the impact of the noise levels experienced during windfarm construction. Researchers have also monitored the noise and vibration generated when turbines are operating and generating electricity. The results of the study have been used to develop guidance for developers to ensure construction noise can be minimised.

Each offshore wind turbine has a cable connecting it to others. With many large windfarms due for construction there has been concern that the electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by the additional cabling on the seabed can affect some fish species that are very sensitive to these fields. Two studies have been carried out to assess the possible effects on the most sensitive fish (mainly sharks, skates and rays). All the reports that have been completed for these studies can be found on this website.