Hi Def Aerial Surveying completes Berwick Bank and Marr Bank surveys

SSE Renewables and Hi Def Aerial Surveying recently completed a 24-month aerial survey programme as part of the proposed Berwick Bank and Marr Bank offshore wind farms. The survey, consisting of 300 hours of flight time, across 5,000 square km, seven times the size of East Lothian, is believed to be the largest of its kind ever undertaken.

The survey, undertaken by HiDef Aerial Surveying, involved four aircraft flying simultaneously, once a month, for 24 months. Each aircraft is equipped with high definition camera equipment that captures live footage and is then assessed by ornithology and marine experts. So far, the team have analysed over 15 million images following the survey and documented the habits of over 338,000 birds and over 2000 marine mammals.

The proposed
Berwick Bank and Marr Bank wind farms would be located in the outer Firth of Forth, over 49km and 40km, respectively, from the East Lothian coast. The projects have different timescales, with scoping for Berwick Bank submitted in August 2020 and virtual exhibitions held in November 2020 and Marr Bank at an earlier stage.

Berwick Bank project is expected to be 2.3 GW and comprise up to 242 offshore wind turbines. It would be capable of generating enough renewable energy to power 3.5 million homes annually. Marr Bank is projected to be 1.85 GW.

Alex Meredith, Project Director for the Berwick Bank and Marr Bank projects said: “SSE Renewables is a world-leading developer of large-scale offshore wind projects based in Scotland. We are committed to addressing the environmental challenges of our projects by seeking the most detailed understanding possible during the development process. Commissioning such an extensive survey means the proposals for Berwick Bank and Marr Bank will be informed by the most comprehensive dataset on local environmental considerations ever seen for an offshore wind development anywhere in the world.

"The data provided by these surveys will allow us to identify and better understand the seabird and marine mammal population in the area and if required, plan any appropriate mitigation to ensure appropriate protection for wildlife and their habitats."

Martin Scott, Commercial Director for Hi Def Aerial Surveying, said: “When first approached by SSE Renewables we did wonder if such a large-scale survey programme was even possible. Two years on we have shown that such challenges can be met and produce a wealth of high value robust data as a reward.”

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