ECOWind will address two challenges. How will offshore wind expansion, combined with other anthropogenic pressures, affect species interactions and marine ecosystems? How can understanding these consequences enable robust approaches to marine environmental restoration and net environmental gain?
The Ecological Consequences of Offshore Wind (ECOWind) programme aims to address a critical gap in understanding how marine ecosystems will respond to large-scale expansions of UK offshore wind infrastructure. It will provide evidence to inform marine policy and management of increasing pressures on UK marine ecosystems from a combination of offshore wind, other anthropogenic stressors (for example, oil and gas, aquaculture and fishing), including environmental responses to climate change.
Outcomes will inform how we manage UK waters and achieve net zero, while ensuring net environmental gain and how to address the lack of progress toward achieving Good Environmental Status in several biodiversity indicator areas, including pelagic habitats and food webs, and marine birds.
At the same time, the programme will directly engage the marine transdisciplinary research community in addressing critical longer-term science challenges, and science-to-policy needs.
This programme has been co-designed with partners, TCE and Defra and will deliver:
- new ways of understanding effects at spatial and temporal scales, using and developing innovative technologies to observe processes and detect change in ecosystem functioning
- outcomes focused on immediate consenting challenges to facilitate deployment of offshore wind, such as mitigation of collision risk to birds
- timely policy-relevant science outcomes, informing decision-making and the implementation of emerging policy concepts.
The programme aims to have strong policy stakeholder engagement throughout (for example, Defra and Marine Scotland), as it will deliver outcomes that will inform policy and marine management solutions to tackle the twin crises of climate changes and biodiversity decline. There will be opportunities to leverage outcomes from complementary investments by TCE in the Offshore Wind Evidence and Change (OWEC) programme as well as industry investments (for example, data, surveys, fieldwork).