Marine Scotland, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Carbon Trust and The Crown Estate, along with the offshore wind development community are working together to implement an Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme (ORJIP) of works to fund and deliver strategic research projects to reduce consenting risk for offshore wind projects in UK waters. Addressing strategic evidence gaps is a high priority for the offshore wind sector as it will play a significant role in ‘de-risking’ future projects. The outputs of this proposed programme are required to inform both consent and licence applications and advice and decisions by the UK regulatory authorities.
ORJIP Project 4 is the first of the ORJIP programme of projects to be progressed. The specific aim of ORJIP Project 4 is to:
- Review, test and/or develop acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs) or other deterrent devices for multiple marine mammal species, thus reducing reliance on visual observations and increasing construction time available by removing daylight/sea state restrictions on piling activity;
- Conduct field tests in realistic conditions to provide evidence that such devices will provide the required level of risk reduction for the species concerned; and
- Develop protocol(s) for the use of ADD(s) as agreed with industry, advisors, regulators and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
In June 2013, ORJIP commissioned Xodus Group, and partners SMRU Marine, to carry out Phase 1 of Project 4, the scope of which was to carry out an independent review of the available evidence base and through consultation with interested parties make recommendations for suggested research programmes, study sites and preliminary costings to guide the ORJIP Project 4 Phase 2 research into the utility of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADD) as mitigation.
Note that mitigation was assessed only in terms of its ability to reduce the risk of direct and indirect injury from noise during turbine installation related piling. The ability for ADD to mitigate disturbance/behavioural effects as a result of piling specifically was not considered. The potential for disturbance to arise as a result of the mitigation measure itself, rather than the piling noise, was however included in the assessment; for example, the potential for noise emitted by an ADD to cause additional disturbance of marine mammals during OWF construction.