UK: RWE Hires CMACS to Provide Marine-Life Protection at Gwynt y Môr

UK: RWE Spends Millions on Marine-Life Protection in Gwynt y Môr Project

A Wirral based environmental consultancy is to manage marine-life protection measures at one of the biggest wind farms currently in construction in Europe, after securing a £multi-million contract with Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm Limited.

CMACS Ltd will deliver a robust monitoring programme throughout the wind farm’s construction, ensuring the safety of marine mammals, such as dolphins, porpoise and seals.

The monitoring will also provide vital data on marine life in the vicinity of the wind farm, and will contribute to wider marine mammal conservation works.

Announcing the contract to CMACS Ltd, RWE npower renewables’ Gwynt y Môr Project Director, Toby Edmonds said: “This is a really important contract for us as we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

“It’s crucial to us that marine mammals in Liverpool Bay are unharmed throughout our construction activity

“Marine mammals such as dolphins and porpoise usually stay well away from any construction activity. By deploying specialist monitors and setting up an exclusion mitigation zone we will ensure they remain unaffected during the construction works.

“Our offshore engineering activity will start very softly in order to act as a warning to marine mammals to avoid the area.

“This mitigation strategy has been approved by the Welsh Government Marine Consents Unit, in consultation with Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and is in compliance with an EU directive preventing harm to marine mammals.”

Bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, harbour porpoises and seals are all visitors to Liverpool Bay at times.

RWE npower renewables can draw on a wealth of marine-life experience, gained during the construction of North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats, also in the same stretch of water.

During construction of Gwynt y Môr, a 500 metre exclusion zone will be set up around the wind farm installation vessels, and piling work will not start until marine mammals are outside that area.

CMACS Ltd will deploy three people on board the installation vessel or from a dedicated survey vessel to monitor marine mammal activity day and night during offshore piling of the foundations.

Hydrophones will also be placed into the water to listen for marine mammal acoustic activity both day and night.

Dr Ian Gloyne-Phillips, Director of CMACS Ltd said: “CMACS is delighted to have won this major contract which confirms our position as a leading marine environmental company to the offshore renewables industry.

“We are particularly looking forward to operating a survey vessel out of the new port facility on the River Mersey in Birkenhead, just a few miles from our own headquarters.

“Projects such as Gwynt y Môr are proving extremely important not just to ourselves but in securing jobs and contributing to growth in industries such as ports, vessel charters and seafarers; it is particularly encouraging to see the expansion of facilities near Cammell Laird and in Mostyn in North Wales in support of the offshore wind farm industry.”

In addition to the observation work during piling, CMACS Ltd will be compiling a list of marine mammal sightings by all vessels involved in the offshore construction of Gwynt y Môr.

Crew transfer vessels will help record sightings, and findings will be used to support environmental monitoring of Gwynt y Môr and contribute to wider marine mammal conservation work.

The findings will also be passed to CCW and shared with SeaWatch Foundation, a national marine conservation research charity dedicated to the protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises around the UK.

At 576MW, Gwynt y Môr will be one of the largest offshore wind farms currently in construction in Europe. The project is a shared investment between partners RWE Innogy, Stadtwerke München GmbH and Siemens(1). Once fully operational, energy generation from Gwynt y Môr is expected to be equivalent to the average annual needs of around 400,000 homes(2).

Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm is being constructed 13 kilometres off the North Wales coast, in water depths of 12-28 metres, and was granted approval by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) back in December 2008.

RWE npower renewables has set up a project information line which people can call if they have a query about the construction of Gwynt y Môr.

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Subsea World News Staff, May 17, 2012; Image: RWE