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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 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 this kittiwake. (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, Innogy, Ørsted, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), and Vattenfall.

OWSMRF Developer Group logos


The Stakeholders include Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Resources Wales, Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Marine Scotland Science, who all contribute to the identification of critical knowledge gaps for OWSMRF to address.

The wider Stakeholder group is made up of ORJIP (Offshore Renewable Joint Industry Project, run by The Carbon Trust), The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland, Marine Scotland, Marine Management Organisation and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Participants at a OWSMRF workshop

Key experts and attendees convened at an August workshop on black-legged kittiwake populations and movements. (Photo: Sue O’Brien)


To address the knowledge gaps identified by developers and stakeholders, 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.

Terms of Reference, including membership, aims, and ways of working, are available.


How does OWSMRF work?

1. Identify and prioritise evidence
Which species pose greatest consent risk?
What are key gaps in our knowledge?
Input from key stakeholders.
2. Identify research opportunities
List research opportunities to fill knowledge gaps.
Input from academics and technical experts
Which will best reduce future OWF consent risk?
Evaluate feasibility of research.
List of research opportunities share with ORJIP and other wider stakeholders
3. Review of research opportunities
Key stakeholders advise which research most beneficial
Developers select preferred research opportunities.
4. Development of research opportunities
Scope developed by working group of key stakeholders, academics, developers.
Research project funding and delivery assisted by working group. 


OWSMRF Pilot Year (May 2019 – April 2020)

The pilot year is focused solely on ornithology. A novel top-down approach was used to identify which species and knowledge gaps OWSMRF should focus on during the pilot year (paper on prioritization methods available soon).

To assist with identifying key knowledge gaps for a species that is currently posing consent risk, we used the ScotMER Ornithology Evidence Map as a starting point. A European perspective was also used, informed by the Common Environmental Assessment Framework (CEAF) Strategic Knowledge agenda and Ronald Rense of the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat. Finally, we appended some additional knowledge gaps of relevance in English waters. The final list of evidence needs will be available soon. 

Stakeholders identified cumulative impacts on black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) to be the issue currently posing greatest consent risk.

Kittiwakes nesting on a cliff

Kittiwakes nesting on a cliff. (Photo: Matt Parsons)


Developers and 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 population modelling of response to additional OWF mortality

Academics and technical experts have assisted with understanding the current evidence base and identifying gaps in evidence that could be addressed through new research. Using workshops, novel research opportunities have been identified. A list of research opportunities will be published here when finalised.


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