Five Estuaries Offshore Windfarm

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Paving the way for renewable energy

The Five Estuaries Offshore windfarm is a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) aimed at producing enough electricity to power almost 400,000 homes by the year 2030. In order to become operational. The windfarm requires a cable route to run inland to connect to the national grid.

In 2022 Ecology Resources undertook the ecology surveys for the entire onshore portion of the project. This involved a huge team effort and landscape scale ecology surveys in order to accurately assess the ecological value of the site and how the installation of onshore infrastructure may impact the local environment.

Five Estuaries Offshore Windfarm, Essex Coast 2022

The onshore element of the project makes landfall near Frinton-on-Sea and is proposed to run inland to connect up to a substation near Ardleigh. As the exact route of the onshore infrastructure is yet to be determined, our work centred around mapping the ecology of an entire landscape. A challenging process, which involved a diverse team of surveyors, GIS technicians and administrators. Works began with breeding bird surveys from April to Sept 2022 and focussed on understanding local breeding populations as well as a few priority species such as Hobby, Corn Bunting and Barn Owl and nearby SPA-designated species. Bat, reptile and dormouse surveys soon followed and continued throughout the summer season.

The project required a classification of habitats present on site. This involved a team of habitat surveyors determining and assessing the condition of every habitat present within the scope of the project across 119ha of Essex farmland, before mapping the data.

The majority of the site turned out to be cropland with smaller areas of grassland, scrub, woodland and urban areas in between. Twenty-eight of the 78 hedgerows surveyed were found to be in good condition with the remaining 50 in moderate or poor condition.

By gaining an understanding of the landscape and how it is used by wildlife, decisions can now be made as to directing the onshore infrastructure to minimise risk to important habitats and how best to restore land post-development, with an aim to leave it better off for nature.

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