Fugro has been contracted by Cefas, the scientific advisor to the Marine Management Organization, to undertake a review of post-consent monitoring at 19 U.K. offshore wind farms and selected foreign sites. The review, published by the Marine Management Organization, makes recommendations that will improve monitoring for the protection of the environment, address concerns of stakeholders and fit 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. Fugro worked with other industry leaders - National Physical Laboratory (noise), SMRU Marine (marine mammals) and British Trust for Ornithology (birds) - to form a project team with real world experience of environmental monitoring and consenting.
The review of the monitoring conditions, reports and data resulted in recommendations being made across all topic areas. Improvements to monitoring systems will be achieved through better knowledge exchange, the integration and co-ordination of monitoring and improving review processes. Formatting conditions and reports, reevaluation of what can be achieved by post-consent monitoring and better links between industry sectors also emerged as key factors.
A significant aspect was the need to focus on monitoring rationale, which was sometimes lost between the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), consent conditions and the monitoring reports. This work will help create a more effective monitoring program by reducing uncertainty of potential impacts allowing better scoping. Increased knowledge during scoping will focus the EIA process on true environmental risks.
Such 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 utilize knowledge gained through environmental monitoring will see improvements for both regulators and developers, ultimately reducing costs, resource and time for the consenting process.