Offshore Wind Strategic Monitoring and Research Forum (OWSMRF)
What is OWSMRF?
The Offshore Wind Strategic Monitoring Research Forum (OWSMRF) is an industry-led collaborative forum that aims to better understand the impact of large-scale offshore wind development on marine birds.
The UK Government has committed to large-scale deployment of offshore wind in the UK, with ambitions to increase capacity to 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 (see more on the gov.uk website). However, a limited understanding of the impact of offshore wind on marine wildlife causes uncertainty around consenting of future development. This is particularly true for impacts on protected bird populations. OWSMRF uses a collaborative approach to identify critical gaps in our understanding, summarise existing evidence, and fill these gaps by developing robust research proposals to obtain new evidence.
The pilot year of OWSMRF will focus on impacts to marine birds, such as kittiwakes. (Photo: Mark Lewis)
Who is involved?
Secretariat and delivery: Acting as Secretariat and providing delivery of much of the OWSMRF work, JNCC is co-ordinating the effort to identify and prioritise research opportunities to fill critical evidence gaps.
The Developer Group (DG) consists of six developers (listed alphabetically): EDF Energy, Equinor, RWE (formerly innogy), Ørsted, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), and Vattenfall.
The Key Stakeholders include Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage (now NatureScot), Natural Resources Wales, Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Marine Scotland Science.
The Wider Stakeholders include ORJIP (Offshore Renewable Joint Industry Project, run by The Carbon Trust), The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland, Marine Scotland Licensing, Marine Scotland Planning and Policy, Marine Management Organisation, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Key Stakeholders and technical experts convened at an August workshop on black-legged kittiwake populations and movements. (Photo: Sue O’Brien)
Additionally, Academics and Technical Experts are engaged to assist with reviewing the current state of knowledge and to recommend potential research opportunities to fill critical knowledge gaps.
How does OWSMRF work?
OWSMRF Pilot Year (May 2019 – April 2020)
The pilot year focused solely on ornithology. A novel top-down approach was used to identify which species and knowledge gaps OWSMRF should focus on.
Cumulative impacts on black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) was identified to be the issue currently posing greatest consent risk using a suite of available evidence, tools, and technical expertise.
Kittiwakes nesting on a cliff. (Photo: Matt Parsons)
Developers and key stakeholders agreed the critical knowledge gaps (KG) were:
KG1: reducing uncertainty around estimates of windfarm collision mortality;
KG2: improving understanding of connectivity between OWF and SPAs
KG3: increasing confidence in predicting population response to additional OWF mortality
Academics and technical experts assisted with reviewing the current evidence base and identifying gaps in evidence that could be addressed through new research. Using workshops, novel research opportunities were identified. A report was produced for each of the three knowledge gaps, listing Research Opportunities (see below). Scopes of work were drafted for three Research Opportunities.