Our Director Paul Gill will be presenting the latest quantitative evidence on the effects of a large (504MW) offshore wind farm on seabirds. He will describe the generic effects of such developments on birds, how extended and detailed monitoring programmes can improve knowledge of site-specific effects and, while cognisant of unique site and location attributes, inform predictions made during Environmental Impact Assessments elsewhere which are required before any offshore wind farm may be expanded and/or constructed.
Paul will describe and summarise statistically robust comparisons of changes in densities of 13 targeted priority seabird species, modelled from 9-years of highest quality seabird data, collected within the two Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm sites, relative to four nested buffer zones and two pooled reference areas. The results include strong evidence for the avoidance of the wind farm by four species (red-throated diver, gannet, fulmar and guillemot) and weaker evidence for avoidance by razorbill and common gull, and for the first time in such studies, strong evidence for the attraction of kittiwake.
This presentation includes estimates of the magnitude of changes detected, together with 95% confidence limits. The most novel finding came from analyses of changes in flight densities of birds flying only at rotor height. These analyses revealed strong evidence for kittiwakes (the only species for which such flight height analyses and collision-risk estimates were statistically significant) flying at rotor-height within the turbine areas, and therefore potentially at risk of collision, at greater densities during operation than before construction. However, it is essential to note that the kittiwakes recorded around and within the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm are wintering in the coastal area off East Anglia, in contrast to the many breeding kittiwake colonies close to other offshore wind farm locations further north.