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Marine habitats and offshore industries

JNCC's Role

JNCC provides nature conservation advice throughout all stages of the licensing process for offshore developments to Government, regulators, industry, consultants and many others. This includes reviewing applications for activities with the potential to damage or disturb seabed habitats and species. We provide advice on all aspects of seabed biology and ecology during all stages of a development's lifecycle including screening, scoping, environmental survey design, environmental impact assessments, operational years and decommissioning.

Should operations be proposed within protected areas designated for seabed features, JNCC provides advice regarding potential impacts to the site, and reviews associated assessments under UK or European nature conservation legislation.


Why is seabed disturbance a problem?

The UK has a wide range of ecologically important seabed habitats and species that are protected both within the UK's network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) or outside MPAs, such as OSPAR listed habitats and species. Cold water coral reefs, deep-sea sponge gardens, sandbanks, ocean quahogs and biogenic reefs are examples of some of the habitats and species found within the UK’s offshore marine environment.

These seabed habitats and species can be impacted by offshore industry operations (e.g. placement of infrastructure, seabed dredging, etc.), which can occur in the same location or in close proximity to MPAs.  Many different industry sectors also operate in the same geographic area as each other, thereby potentially increasing the disturbance to these habitats and species further. Impacts and pressures from industry activities include long-term direct removal or loss of habitats and species, or shorter-term smothering by suspended sediments and disturbance.  More information on potential impacts and pressures from industry activities can be found in JNCC's Pressures-Activities Database.  Specific advice on industry operations within MPAs can be found on JNCC’s Site Information Centre webpages.


JNCC's Tools, Guidelines and Supporting Information

JNCC has developed a suite of environmental tools, guidelines and supporting information to inform environmental assessments and reduce potential impacts to seabed habitat and species from activities in the offshore environment.

As well as providing direct advice on individual developments, JNCC also advises on plan level assessments for offshore sectors (e.g. Oil and Gas leasing rounds, plan and sector level assessments for offshore wind, plan level assessment for aggregates, etc.), contributes to strategic evidence initiatives for these sectors (e.g. BEIS SEA research projects, ScotMer, The Crown Estate Strategic Enabling Actions Programme), as well as undertaking JNCC-led projects (e.g. Pidduck et al., 2017, assessments (Article 17 Habitats Directive Reporting), monitoring (Common Standards Monitoringand surveys.

JNCC's environmental tools, guidelines and supporting information include:


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