Seafloor grab samples were gathered at sites in the windfarm development area and a remotely operated vehicle was used to assess geophysical features on the seabed and sites of potential archaeological interest. Potential cobble reef and pockmark habitats on the seabed were investigated using a drop down video system.
The marine team used the outputs of site-specific geophysical surveys, including water depth, topography and composition of the seabed, to design the sampling strategy and plan the field work.
Benthic faunal samples and underwater video footage were analysed by APEM’s laboratories team, with the seabed images used to assess the condition and extent of any habitats and species of potential conservation interest.
Detailed technical reports covering the benthic marine ecological and archaeological surveys were then produced, providing pre-construction baseline data and allowing assessments of potential impacts during construction and operation to be made. They also form a basis for post-construction monitoring.
APEM director, Dr Adrian Williams, said: “Our experienced marine team lead the work to provide benthic ecological and archaeological assessments of the development area, with the capability to carry out everything from gathering samples at sea to laboratory analysis and writing of the pre-construction baseline report.”
The Beatrice offshore windfarm will consist of 84 turbines with a capacity of 588 MW located about 13.5 km off the Caithness coast. It is being developed by owners SSE, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and SDIC Power. Developers say it will produce enough electricity to power around 450,000 homes.
Offshore construction is scheduled to begin next year with the windfarm fully operational in 2019.
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