Vattenfall’s designed Norfolk projects with biodiversity in mind

In: Windfarms
Swedish energy group Vattenfall has stated that, during the design phase of its Norfolk projects, it sensitively sited individual turbines and made them taller. It claims that this maximised the wind energy that can be generated off the Norfolk coast, whilst minimising the impact on biodiversity.

Vattenfall engaged with more than 100 specialists on its
Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas wind farms, which will see up to 360 turbines providing clean energy to 3.9 million homes.

Protecting flight paths, breeding habitats, food chains and foraging areas of kittiwakes, gannets, black backed gulls and other seabirds, led the company to employ the expertise of ornithologists during the five-year planning process for the wind farms.

Data from seabird studies around the world, illustrating their behaviour and how they reacted when something different, like wind turbines, appeared in their environment, revealed that flight heights were key to deciding on effective mitigation measures.

Data revealed that most birds fly close to the sea surface. Higher up, the number of birds decreases. So, if developers put turbines on higher towers and moved rotors away from the sea surface, collisions would decrease.

Significant time, resources and focus were devoted to defining the safest turbine height for birds during the development of the Norfolk projects.

Acting on this evidence, Vattenfall chose to increase the minimum blade tip clearance from 22m to 30m from sea level on each of the 360 turbines. The density of the turbines was reduced and the team had to investigate if turbine installation vessels existed large enough to install the taller turbines.

Kathy Wood, Head of Consenting at Vattenfall, said: “Delivering fossil fuel-free energy must be done in a way that protects biodiversity and Vattenfall is continually working to minimise negative impacts.

“Consultation is a central part of the environmental impact assessment process, and on these projects we have deployed this to its fullest potential. This has prompted us to come up with many, and innovative adaptations to our initial plans, and we are really happy that this engagement from communities and experts has led to sensitive design.”

Mark Trinder, Ornithologist at MacArthur Green, said: ”Responsible developers employ specialists like us to assess the impact of their developments by mapping seabird behaviour in their planned development area.

”Early on, site consultation and data gathering meant that the wind farm areas were chosen further offshore, as far away as possible from coastal bird breeding sites.

“All infrastructure projects have some form of impact, but Vattenfall has done everything possible to sensitively design the Norfolk projects.”

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