The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is working with six offshore wind developers on an initiative that aims to gain a better understanding of how offshore wind farms impact marine birds.
The Offshore Wind Strategic Monitoring and Research Forum (OWSMRF) is led by EDF Renewables, Equinor, Innogy, Orsted, ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall.
OWSMRF aims to enable government nature conservation advisors, NGOs, experts and regulators to highlight critical knowledge gaps to developers.
It will help to identify, prioritise and develop further research and evidence, with the focus on marine birds, specifically kittiwakes, in the pilot year, JNCC said.
JNCC will work closely with academics to review existing evidence and identify scientific research projects that would improve understanding of how kittiwake populations in the UK are affected by operational and planned offshore wind farms.
By the end of the pilot year, JNCC will produce three reports to summarise current evidence, identify research opportunities that could fill in knowledge gaps and indicate which of them would be most beneficial to progress.
JNCC said that funding to undertake the most promising research opportunities will be pursued in subsequent years.
JNCC director of marine, John Goold said: “This forum offers a unique opportunity to rapidly identify and progress high quality research that will facilitate future offshore wind development while ensuring long-term sustainable use of the marine environment.
“We are looking forward to the opportunities this pilot year brings.”
Vattenfall chair of the group of funding developers Jesper Kyed Larsen said: “The offshore wind developers funding the OWSMRF pilot are very pleased to see it getting off to a flying start, promising it will be the effective vehicle we were hoping for.”
JNCC is a public body that advises the UK government and devolved administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation.