Funded by Natural Environment Research Council, The Crown Estate’s Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme (OWEC), and Crown Estate Scotland.
ECOWind £9.5 million
ACCELERATE £2 million
ECOWind is bringing together experts from science, policy and industry to understand how offshore wind affects ecosystems, and the species and habitats that make them, in order to reduce negative impacts on marine life while tackling climate change.
The ECOWind project, ACCELERATE, Ecological Implications of Accelerated Seabed Mobility around Windfarms, led by Dr Katrien Van Landeghem, Bangor University, aims to predict the effects of changes to the seabed following the installation of offshore windfarms and climate change. The study will quantify the implications for biodiversity, ecosystem services, marine habitats, and interactions between seabird populations and their prey.
When natural currents in the sea deviate around wind turbine foundations or anchors, the forces on the seabed enhance, disturbing sediments. This can change the shape and sediment composition of the seabed, alter the location of fish preyed on by seabirds and reduce the clarity of the water, potentially affecting areas far beyond the windfarms themselves. The climate crisis will exacerbate this, and it will extend to coastal zones, as future storm waves and rising sea levels will alter the ways energy from the sea is transferred to the seabed. The combined changes have associated effects on habitats, ecosystem services, and wildlife populations that surround offshore wind sites, both locally and further afield.
By understanding the extent and implications of these changes, ACCELERATE will work out the relative scales of different impacts on the seabed and propose measures to monitor and mitigate against negative impacts.
Using the Eastern Irish Sea as a case study area, ACCELERATE aims to:
- Predict the effects of changes to the seabed following the installation of offshore windfarms, and in the wider context of climate change.
- Quantify the implications of such changes for biodiversity, ecosystem services, marine habitats, and interactions between seabird populations and their food.
- Identify opportunities for the integration of wider conservation efforts with mitigation against negative impacts and to support biodiversity net gain initiatives.
- Develop understanding on data gathering effectiveness at a large scale, to ensure accurate predictions of future seabed changes in a cost-effective way.
The project will support the development of environmental simulations and prediction systems across a range of offshore windfarm sizes, use predictive modelling to map behavioural adjustments in key species, and develop a public-facing tool that allows stakeholders to understand the potential impacts of offshore wind developments on marine habitats in their region.
Project partners :
- Bangor University
- National Oceanography Centre (NOC)
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
- HR Wallingford
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
- University of Liverpool
- Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)
- Mona Offshore Wind Ltd.
- Offshore Wind Ltd.
- The Met Office
- Swansea University
- Natural Resources Wales
- Mainstream Renewable Power
- The European Subsea Cables Association
- The Wildlife Trusts
- JDR Cables
- Cooper Marine Advisors