Is large-scale offshore wind hurting the North Sea’s ecology?

The House of Lords EU Environment sub-committee calls for immediate research on the impact of wind installations on sand eels, fish, seabirds and marine mammals

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Ministers have been urged to prioritise research on the possible impacts of offshore wind development on the range of flora and fauna that make up the North Sea’s ecology.

In a letter sent to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Environment Secretary George Eustice, the House of Lords EU Environment sub-committee notes the cumulative environmental impacts of large-scale offshore wind deployment are poorly understood.

The body, which previously held an evidence session to discuss the environmental impacts of offshore wind development in the North Sea, heard that research into technologies to reduce these impacts is not incentivised sufficiently. 

Lord Teverson, Chair of the sub-committee, said: “There is a delicate balance to strike in developing offshore wind power between climate change action and possible ecological impacts.

“Improving our understanding of the effects of offshore wind projects on the marine environment is crucial to ensuring that possible negative impacts on the North Sea ecosystem, including sand eels, fish, seabirds and marine mammals are minimised.”

A government spokesperson said: “While the UK has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, we are determined to ensure we are also taking the potential impact of wind farms on marine environments very seriously.

“We are working with the Crown Estate, industry and wider stakeholders and are undertaking UK-wide research to better understand the sites likely to be used for future wind farms in the period to 2050.”

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