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Seas and Oceans: Wind Power

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL10482, tabled on 18 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) the construction of, and (2) the underwater noise levels caused by, wind turbines at sea on (a) dolphins, (b) porpoises, (c) whales, (d) seals, and (e) other marine life; and what steps they are taking to mitigate any such impact.

Answered on

2 December 2020

Defra has commissioned a number of projects to assess the impact of underwater noise pollution. These include several projects to set targets for Good Environmental Status (GES) under descriptor 11 (marine noise) of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which assesses noise and its effects on marine species including fish, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Most recently, we have this year published a risk assessment of underwater noise pollution in Special Areas of Conservation for marine mammals, wider Marine Protected Areas and throughout the UK Exclusive Economic Zone.

A Defra project is currently investigating effectiveness of existing, new and emerging mitigation techniques for offshore wind. We are working with other Government bodies, The Crown Estate, industry and wider stakeholders to mitigate against, and prepare for, any environmental impacts of growth in the offshore wind sector

To mitigate the impact of underwater noise in the Southern North Sea we have worked with the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies to publish guidance for assessing the significance of noise disturbance against Conservation Objectives of harbour porpoise Special Areas of Conservation and continue to work with industry and marine regulators on its implementation.