For the next three months, three wind farm survey vessels will be busy in the Southern North Sea at the North Falls offshore wind farm site in the UK.
North Falls, a proposed extension to the existing Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, is located approximately 20 kilometres from the East Anglia coast on a site covering a total of 150 km2. North Falls is jointly owned by SSE Renewables and RWE Renewables.
The surveys, being conducted by the Dutch marine survey contractor Fugro, will be integral to the project’s environmental impact assessment, with the data collected helping the team to understand the local marine environment.
The surveys at the extension project are the first offshore environmental and geophysical surveys on the project's array site and along future cable routes.
The 42-meter Fugro Mercator and 12-meter Fugro Seeker vessels will conduct geophysical surveys of the seabed, while the 27 meters long Curtis Marshall vessel and will take benthic grab samples and drop-down camera photography of the seabed.
The surveys, according to North Falls Project Manager Martin Whyte, will allow the project team to evaluate local environmental conditions as well as identify and locate protected marine species and ecosystems, allowing them to form a baseline understanding of the site.
“From the environmental data and samples gathered we will be able to identify risks and impacts and develop plans for mitigation, while the survey results will also feed into the early design and engineering of the project’s offshore infrastructure.
“The information will also help to determine what type of further detailed survey works are likely to be required as the project progresses.”
Fugro's vessels will operate out of Harwich Port, with the surveys scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.