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Multi-billion pound wind farm to have 'negligible' impact on marine mammals

PUBLISHED: 15:58 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:03 06 March 2019

Atlantic grey seals are among the marine mammals which could be affected by the wind farm plans. Pictures: Ed Marshall

Atlantic grey seals are among the marine mammals which could be affected by the wind farm plans. Pictures: Ed Marshall

Ed Marshall

Works from a proposed multi-billion pound wind farm were judged to have only a minor impact on marine wildlife in the first session of three days of hearings into the project.

Three days of hearings looking at the potential impact of the planned Hornsea Three wind farm have been taking place this week. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA WireThree days of hearings looking at the potential impact of the planned Hornsea Three wind farm have been taking place this week. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Danish energy firm Orsted is bidding to build what would be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm off the north Norfolk coast, which would also see a cable corridor dug across the county.

Stakeholders at the hearing, held at Norwich’s Mercure Hotel on Wednesday, looked at the impacts of the wind farm plans on animals including minke whale, white-beaked dolphin, grey seal and harbour (common) seals.

Hornsea Three lies within an area frequently used by some species of marine mammal, in particular harbour porpoise and harbour seal.

Things that were identified as potentially affecting the animals include underwater noise from piling activities.

The proposed site of the Hornsea Project Three offshore windfarm, about 120k from Trimingham on the north Norfolk coast. Picture; DONG ENERGYThe proposed site of the Hornsea Project Three offshore windfarm, about 120k from Trimingham on the north Norfolk coast. Picture; DONG ENERGY

Other potential affects include increased suspended sediments, changes to prey (fish) resources, accidental release of contaminants, increased vessel traffic and electric and magnetic effects from subsea cables.

MORE: Wind farm project’s impact on marine mammals to come under scrutiny at hearing

But these impacts were “predicted to result in effects of either negligible or minor adverse significance”.

A report into the matter said: “The cumulative effects of underwater noise from piling on harbour porpoise was assessed to be of moderate adverse significance in the short term during the period when foundation installation is proposed, with this expected to decrease to a minor adverse in the long term, following completion of construction onwards.”

Thursday’s hearing will assess how it could encroach on aviation, shipping and oil and gas operations.

Graphic showing the proposed route of the cable for Hornsea Project Three wind farm. Image: ARCHANT LIBRARYGraphic showing the proposed route of the cable for Hornsea Project Three wind farm. Image: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Friday’s hearing, which will be attended by local councils, will look at the potential impact on traffic and the transport network.

Once this week’s hearings have been carried out, more will be conducted later this month before a Planning Inspectorate panel completes its examination of the evidence on Tuesday, April 2.

From this point the panel will have three months to prepare a report before Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, is tasked with deciding the application - a process which could take another three months.

A minke whale. The species is one of those that could be affected by the proposed Hornsea Three wind farm. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYA minke whale. The species is one of those that could be affected by the proposed Hornsea Three wind farm. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

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