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Impact of Offshore Wind Farms on Marine Mammals

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has called for a single State organisation to deal with measures to reduce the impact of offshore wind farms on marine mammals. Its policy document on the issue includes recommendations to ensure offshore wind farms have “only minimal and not significant impacts” on whales, dolphins and porpoises and their habitats.

The IWDG have highlighted the need to protect areas identified as being important for whales and dolphins and has called for changes to mitigation practices. It says “passive acoustic monitoring is the only effective way to detect presence of the marine mammals and should form part of a 24-hour mitigation strategy.” It also says the use of acoustic deterrent technology should be reviewed according to species present and exact parameters of the device used, in order that it acts as an effective deterrent prior to operations.

Special Organisation Needed to Control Offshore Wind Development Effects on Marine Mammals

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has recommended that a single State body should handle all mitigation measures to reduce impact of offshore wind farms on marine mammals. A policy document published by the NGO includes recommendations to ensure offshore wind farms have “only minimal and not significant impacts” on whales, dolphins and porpoises and their habitats.

“The marine renewable energy industry in Ireland is set for explosive growth in the coming years with a production target of 5GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and an ambition of 30GW by 2050,” the IWDG says. “We have looked at recent research and international best practice to inform this policy document. The aim is to mitigate or reduce our impact and to measure our impact such that future developments can be better planned, and existing ones perhaps improved.”

The IWDG have highlighted the need to protect areas identified as being important for whales and dolphins and has called for changes to mitigation practices. “Passive acoustic monitoring is the only effective way to detect presence of the marine mammals and should form part of a 24-hour mitigation strategy. The use of acoustic deterrent technology should be reviewed according to species present and exact parameters of the device used in order that it acts as an effective deterrent prior to operations. We are worried the state agencies involved in assessing planning applications and awarding licenses could be overwhelmed in the near future leading to bad decisions and delays.

“All mitigation procedures and the assessment of requirements should be coordinated by a single body to avoid differences in implementation by different regulators and the current guidelines be updated in line with best practice internationally”.