APEM completes Norfolk Boreas surveys

Hi-tech seabird and marine mammal surveys have been completed for offshore wind farm developer Vattenfall off the coast of Norfolk by digital aerial survey specialists, APEM.

Image: APEMImage: APEM

After collecting over 34,000 ultra-high resolution digital photographs over 24 months of surveys for Vattenfall’s proposed Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm, the project team has begun using wildlife data from the images to prepare its final environmental assessments.

Jake Laws, Vattenfall’s consent manager for Norfolk Boreas, said: “We need the data that APEM gathers so we can make a proper analysis of the potential impact that Norfolk Boreas could have on seabirds and marine mammals. APEM’s hi-tech approach is really exciting and, importantly, effective in gathering reliable data.”

In a first for the industry, APEM recently agreed a new method with statutory nature conservation bodies to provide absolute density estimates for marine mammals from aerial digital data. Vattenfall’s recently submitted development application for the Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm is among the first to use this new technique.

APEM’s aircraft-mounted camera systems gather exceptionally high quality data from any height to well above 2,000 feet. This allows the company’s in-house ornithology team to identify the species of well over 95 per cent of the birds in the images within the site and four kilometre buffer.

APEM’s project manager, Sean Sweeney, said: “We are delighted to have completed the survey programme without missing a single month, despite some challenging weather conditions over the last two years.

“We know how important it is for developers to have data that they can rely on and that is trusted by regulators. Our new method for using our aerial digital data to estimate population densities of marine mammals is a significant advance for the industry and we’re looking forward to continuing to provide high resolution aerial digital surveys for Vattenfall.”

APEM’s digital aerial surveys of seabirds and marine mammals have been accepted by the UK regulators, for instance through the PINs process in England, without the need for additional modelling or supplementary data gathered by boat based surveys.

Once constructed, Norfolk Boreas would be one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world. Covering about 725 square kilometres and with a capacity of 1.8 GW it would generate enough clean energy to supply around 1.3 million homes.

Press Office
APEM, Nolfolk Boreas, off, wind farm, survey, marine life, mammals, birds, wildlife

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