Abatement of underwater noise pollution from pile-driving and explosions in UK waters
Co-organised by Nathan Merchant (Cefas) and Stephen Robinson (NPL)
Underwater noise pollution from the pile-driving of offshore wind turbine foundations and the detonation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) is recognised as an issue of growing concern by UK regulators and policymakers responsible for the stewardship of the marine environment. Marine mammals, fish and invertebrate species can be adversely affected by exposure to noise from these activities. Some of these species are protected under the Habitats Regulations, which require as a licence condition that there is no satisfactory alternative to the activity. However, for both pile-driving and UXO, technologies are available which reduce the amount of noise emitted at source (noise abatement). Such technologies are being routinely deployed in other parts of the North Sea in order to reduce the risk of impact on marine life, particularly marine mammals.
This workshop aims to explore the technical feasibility of applying noise abatement measures to offshore windfarm construction and UXO detonation to improve the quality of the acoustic habitat in UK seas. Drawing on expertise developed by operators implementing noise abatement measures elsewhere in the North Sea, the programme will consider the technologies available and their benefits, and assess what technical challenges there may be to implementation in UK waters. As well as technical input, representatives from industry, non-governmental organisations, government agencies, and Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies will offer perspectives on the issue, and a structured break-out session will allow time in smaller groups to discuss ways forward.