Aerial survey specialist APEM will complete a final survey over Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard East site this month, as part of an eight month project to gather data on birds and marine mammals in the area.

Vattenfall will use analysis of the survey data as part of its environment impact assessment.

Eight surveys were flown out from Norwich International Airport at monthly intervals between September 2015 and April 2016 and the resulting images were analysed by APEM’s in-house ornithology team. They reveal data on the numbers and distribution of bird species throughout the non-breeding period in this area of the southern North Sea, including auks, gannets, kittiwakes and fulmars.

The surveys have captured over 10,000 ultra-high resolution images and were the first to use APEM’s newly developed Shearwater II camera system.

The state-of-the-art system delivers exceptionally high quality data that allows the species of birds and marine mammals to be identified accurately, in line with the company’s strict quality assurance standards. It gathers images at a ground resolution of 1 cm or more from any height to well above 2000 feet and provides precise bird flight heights with confidence intervals meeting statutory agency requirements.

By reducing the time it takes to carry out a survey the set-up also offers reduced costs for developers, an important consideration as the UK offshore wind industry continues its successful drive for cost reductions.

APEM previously surveyed the same area for 24 months between 2012 and 2014, when it was known as East Anglia FOUR.

Vattenfall’s environment manager, Kathy Wood, said: “APEM’s expertise and high quality surveys mean we can be very confident in planning for the baseline reporting and EIA work to come.”

Sean Sweeney, an ornithology specialist at APEM who project managed the surveys, said: “By using our new camera system we’ve been able to provide Vattenfall with extremely accurate data on the birds and marine mammals within the survey area, including the precise flight heights of birds.

“We are the only survey provider to have had our data used and approved through the PINS process and are pleased to be working with Vattenfall on this important project to achieve the same goals.”

Norfolk Vanguard comprises two sites, East and West. Once constructed, it will provide a generating capacity of up to 1800 MW, capable of producing enough low carbon electricity to meet the equivalent electricity demand of more than 1.3 million UK households.

For more information, please contact Sean Sweeney.