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Marine / Developer responds after petition launched against offshore wind farms

An example of floating wind turbines.

A PETITION has been launched to halt offshore wind farms around Shetland due to concerns around the impact on marine life.

At the time of writing the petition has 81 signatures to date.

Two floating offshore farms are proposed for areas to the east of Shetland, and could generate 2.8GW of power in total.

Created by Shetland resident Edna Stewart, the petition says there is “no certainty” about how offshore wind farms would affect marine life.

“Our orcas, seals and otters communicate through sonar – the vibrations from windmills could cause them distress leading to devastating consequences such as beaching incidents or even death,” the petition claimed.

“We are not against renewable energy but believe there must be other ways to achieve this without risking our unique ecosystem.

“We urge decision-makers to halt plans for offshore wind farms around Shetland until comprehensive studies into their impact on local wildlife have been conducted.”

The petition was created following a public engagement event held in Lerwick by the team behind the proposed Arven offshore wind farm, which would be sited around 30 kilometres off Shetland.

This could feature around 160 floating turbines and produce up to 2.3GW of energy.

In response, a spokesperson for Arven said the project is “carrying out extensive surveys and data gathering on wildlife in and around the proposed footprint of the wind farm to inform development planning”.

“A benthic (seabed) survey of the lease areas has been conducted, seabird colony counts have taken place, a programme of aerial surveys to gather data on bird and marine mammal activity is ongoing, and this summer passive acoustic marine mammal monitoring equipment will be deployed by local vessels,” they added.

“The data gathered will be used to inform the environmental impact assessment (EIA), consent decisions and any measures required to mitigate identified potential impacts.

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“The EIA will be the subject of an extensive round of further public consultation.”

They added that one of Arven’s two developers, Ocean Winds, has a “track record” in building projects in a sustainable way, with a “clear focus on ensuring potential impacts on the environment are minimised”.

“Significant effort has also been taken to implement monitoring programmes at its wind farm sites throughout pre, during and post-construction phases,” the spokesperson continued.

“This includes a long-term partnership – now spanning over 14 years – with the University of Aberdeen, which leads on the monitoring of marine mammals in the Moray Firth and provides specialist advice on marine mammal biology and ecology to various Ocean Winds projects in UK.

“Consultation is critical to Arven, which has the potential to bring numerous long-term benefits to Shetland. We are gathering data and listening to local and national stakeholders, including the fishing industry as a particular priority.

“This approach supports our vision of creating an offshore wind farm that is developed in partnership with stakeholders and in a way which seeks to maximise the delivery of long-term opportunities for Shetland.”

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