A framework for improving treatment of uncertainty in offshore wind assessments for protected marine birds

Searle, K.R. ORCID:; O'Brien, S.H.; Jones, E.L.; Cook, A.S.C.P.; Trinder, M.N.; McGregor, R.M.; Donovan, C.; McCluskie, A.; Daunt, F. ORCID:; Butler, A.; Gibbs, Mark. 2023 A framework for improving treatment of uncertainty in offshore wind assessments for protected marine birds. ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsad025. 13, pp.

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Governments worldwide are setting ambitious targets for offshore renewable energy development (ORD). However, deployment is constrained by a lack of understanding of the environmental consequences of ORD, with impacts on protected birds forming a key environmental consenting challenge. Assessing the impacts of ORD on marine birds is challenging, utilizing interlinked approaches to understand complex behavioural, energetic, and demographic processes. Consequently, there is considerable uncertainty associated with ORD assessments for marine birds, with current methods failing to quantify uncertainty in a scientifically robust, evidence-based manner. This leads to a high degree of precaution and a lack of confidence in the evidence used to inform ORD consenting decisions. We review the methods used to estimate ornithological ORD impacts in the UK, a country at the forefront of ORD. We identify areas in which uncertainty quantification could be improved through statistical modelling, data collection, or adaptation of the assessment process. We develop a framework for end-to-end quantification of uncertainty, integrating uncertainty estimates from individual stages of the assessment process. Finally, we provide research recommendations to better quantify and reduce uncertainty, to lower future ORD consenting risk. These recommendations extend beyond the UK and could improve impact assessments in other countries with different legislative frameworks.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1054-3139
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: environmental variation, impact assessment, marine birds, offshore wind energy, precaution, seabirds, uncertainty
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 06 Nov 2023 10:00 +0 (UTC)

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