The expansion of offshore renewables has raised concerns over potential disturbance to coastal cetaceans. In this study, we used passive acoustic monitoring to assess whether cetaceans responded to pile-driving noise during the installation of two 5MW offshore wind turbines off NE Scotland in 2006. Monitoring was carried out at both the turbine site and a control site in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Harbour porpoises occurred regularly around the turbine site in all years, but there was some evidence that porpoises did respond to disturbance from installation activities. We use these findings to highlight how uncertainty over cetacean distribution and the scale of disturbance effects constrains opportunities for B-A-C-I studies. We explore alternative approaches to assessing the impact of offshore wind farm upon cetaceans, and make recommendations for the research and monitoring that will be required to underpin future developments.