EIRwind – Understanding seabird vulnerability to offshore windfarms

Dr Mark Jessopp

Team members: Emma Critchley, William Hunt, Prof. John Quinn

EIRwind is an industry-led collaborative research project, co-designing the opportunity around the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resources, using offshore wind as the catalyst for innovation and impact. It is a collaborative project with ten industry partners to help accelerate opportunities towards the development of offshore wind in Ireland. The project involves the utilisation of Marine Spatial Planning concepts to address aspects such as consenting and policy/legislative frameworks; stakeholder engagement frameworks; data management frameworks; technical, environmental and societal constraints; and the production of development strategies for offshore wind energy case study zones.

Ireland holds internationally important numbers of seabirds, and the complex biological oceanography in deeper water results in high seabird biodiversity. This study will assess risk to seabirds from offshore wind development. Seabird vulnerability indices will be applied to Irish populations, incorporating the newest information on populations and conservation status, as well as factors including risk of collision or displacement from preferred foraging areas, and used to inform overall risk for offshore renewable energy development. Vulnerability indices will then be applied to data on the distribution of seabirds at sea to assess the spatial distribution of risk and inform siting decisions for developments.