Ecology is an important subject when assessing interests during the realisation of offshore wind farms. That is why is a testing framework was created that is used when spatial decisions are being made about the development of offshore wind energy; this is called the ‘Ecology and Cumulation Framework’. This framework examines the effects of the realisation of the intended development of offshore wind farms on porpoises, birds and bats. These are the species and species groups on which the greatest effects are expected.

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Effects of the construction of wind farms on ecology

In the Ecology and Cumulation Framework (KEC), the possible cumulative ecological effects of existing offshore wind farms and offshore wind farms still under construction were studied with the ten offshore wind farms agreed in the SER Energy Agreement. The effects of wind farms outside the 12-mile zone were also studied. The aim of the Ecology and Cumulation Framework is to be able to determine whether the (construction of) all wind farms, together with a number of other activities at sea, lead to ‘significant negative effects’ on the ecology. If necessary, regulations can then be included in the plot decisions in order to prevent or reduce these effects.

Cumulative effects on porpoises, seabirds and bats

The Framework examines the possible cumulative effects on the populations of relevant species when the offshore wind farms in the SER Energy Agreement are being realised. In addition, the plot decisions for the various wind farms examine whether location-specific effects are to be expected. It is therefore also determined which mitigating measures can be taken to prevent any significant negative effects. This relates to effects that might cause the animal populations to structurally decrease and that detrimentally affect the natural resilience of the species. The measures to prevent those effects can include the restriction of underwater noise caused by pile-driving so that fewer porpoises are disturbed. Or, for example, the definition of requirements for the turbines to reduce the number of birds and bats that collide with the blades.

See the Ecology and Cumulation Framework (KEC) for more information about the research method and the results. This also includes descriptions of possible measures, but choices for particular measures will have to be made in the plot decisions.