Here at WDC we welcome the recent news that a large wind farm that was proposed in the Irish Sea, has been withdrawn.
The Rhiannon offshore wind farm was to be situated 12 miles off the coast of Anglesey, consisting of over 400 turbines and covering an unprecedented 497 km2 – an area where there have been very few surveys to assess whale and dolphin populations, so it is hard to know how important an area it is for them.
It would have certainly impacted on bottlenose dolphins, especially the animals from the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) that winter off Anglesey. Risso’s dolphins could also have been impacted, including those WDC has been researching since 1999 at Bardsey Island as they potentially move between Bardsey and Isle of Man.
Harbour porpoises would have been most affected by Rhiannon, the length of the construction phase with 16 years of pile driving, would mean the development would continue over several harbour porpoise life spans. If they are disturbed they may not return after development has completed, which has happened in other areas where offshore wind farms have been developed.
We also had concerns over the lack of mitigation measures and lack of any monitoring proposals. The size of the population management units meant the assessment does not take into account local populations, migrating animals and potential barrier effects.
We continue to support the development of marine renewable energy and recommend that it is located away from critical and important areas for whales, dolphins and porpoises; and foundations that do not require pile driving are developed, to avoid negatively impacting them.