Offshore Windfarm -Part 4 – EIA

Environmental Impact Assessment

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) looks at the impact of the proposed development on the environment.  It will look at this throughout the life of the windfarm, during the construction, operation and decommissioning stages.

Large projects such as offshore windfarms are required under European Legislation to carry out and EIA. The most recent EIA regulations specify that the assessment must consider impacts on human health, climate change and biodiversity.

Consultation with statutory consultees, special interest groups and the local community is performed throughout the EIA process. This allows the consenting authority as well as other stakeholders and the public to voice their opinion and concerns.

Seagulls resting on the substation jacket
Birds taking advantage of the windfarm

To determine the effect of the development a range of environmental surveys are conducted to understand the environment.  After assessing the potential impact, mitigation measures are defined and applied in order to determine the effects associated with the development.

Part of the EIA is the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA), where the development’s impacts combined with those impacts from other projects are assessed. The EIA is used to create the Environmental Statement (ES) (or EIA Report). This report is submitted to support a consent application.

A Habitat Regulations Appraisal (HRA) is performed as part of an EIA to ensure that a project conforms to The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010). If the development is likely to affect a designated European site, developers are required to consider the potential effects on protected habitats. A report is submitted with the consent application, with sufficient information for a decision to be made.

This assessment will cost about £8 million for a 1GW wind farm. The EIA process can take up to three years to complete. This is primarily due to the length of time it takes to complete the required environmental survey work.

To find out more about the Rampion Windfarm project, join one of the trips aboard Defiance.