Boost research to protect sealife from wind farms, says Lords committee

Northern gannets fishing in the North Sea.

Ministers have been urged to prioritise finding ways to boost funding for research into environmental impacts of offshore wind farms on marine life.

More must be done to explore and mitigate possible negative impacts of large-scale developments in the North Sea, the House of Lords EU Environment sub-committee has said in a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The sub-committee heard evidence this month from experts about ecological impacts of offshore wind power development in the North Sea.

Lord Teverson, chair of the sub-committee, said:

“There is a delicate balance to strike in developing offshore wind power between climate change action and possible ecological impacts.

“The cumulative environmental impacts of large-scale offshore wind schemes are poorly understood. More and better research is key.

“Improving our understanding of the effects of offshore wind projects on the marine environment is crucial to ensuring that possible negative impacts on the North Sea ecosystem – including sand eels, fish, seabirds and marine mammals – are minimised.”

The sub-committee expressed disappointment too that the government’s Environment Bill is a “missed opportunity to address some of these issues” because it “does not cover the marine environment substantively”.

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