Chapter

Marine Renewable Energy Technology and Environmental Interactions

Part of the series Humanity and the Sea pp 153-172

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Strangford Lough and the SeaGen Tidal Turbine

  • Graham SavidgeAffiliated withMarine Laboratory, Queen’s University Belfast Email author 
  • , David AinsworthAffiliated withMarine Current Turbines
  • , Stuart BearhopAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter
  • , Nadja ChristenAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter
  • , Bjoern ElsaesserAffiliated withSchool of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast
  • , Frank FortuneAffiliated withRoyal Haskoning DHV
  • , Rich IngerAffiliated withEnvironment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter
  • , Robert KennedyAffiliated withMarine Ecosystem Research Laboratory, Ryan Institute, School of Natural Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway
  • , Angus McRobertAffiliated withWater Management Unit, Northern Ireland Environment Agency
    • , Kate E. PlummerAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of ExeterBritish Trust for Ornithology
    • , Daniel W. PritchardAffiliated withSchool of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast
    • , Carol E. SparlingAffiliated withSMRU Marine Ltd
    • , Trevor J. T. WhittakerAffiliated withSchool of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast

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Abstract

The background to and outcomes of the Environmental Monitoring Programme (EMP) required by statutory regulators for the deployment of the SeaGen tidal turbine in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, an area with many conservation designations, are described. The EMP, which was set within the context of an adaptive management approach, considered possible effects of the device on local populations of seals and harbour porpoises, representative seabirds and benthic communities. The studies on seals were carried out on both local and regional scales. The ecological studies were complemented by detailed field and hydrodynamic modelling investigations together with a programme of mitigation measures designed to reduce collisions between seals and turbine rotors. In general only minor statistically significant changes in abundance, distribution and animal behaviour patterns were recorded, principally associated with small distributional shifts close to the turbine structure and with the likelihood that these changes were ecologically of little significance. The seal–rotor collision mitigation studies provided a base for the establishment of acceptable collision risk strategies. The EMP highlighted observational, methodological and statistical challenges in assessing the environmental consequences of marine energy devices. A brief review of related studies in Strangford Lough is included.

Keywords

Benthos Current measurements Environmental monitoring programme Marine mammals Mitigation measures Seabirds SeaGen tidal turbine