Benthic-Offshore Wind Interactions

Lead Principal Investigator: Professor Martin Solan, University of Southampton


The expansion of the offshore wind industry is expected to contribute to the UK’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050, however, our understanding of the cumulative effects of this expansion is limited when considered alongside the anthropogenic pressures from other seabed users. In order to maintain the biodiversity and productivity of our seabed and associated ecosystems, as well as their supporting functions and services, it is critical that sustainable approaches align the offshore wind expansion with other marine spatial planning pressures.

BOWIE will use a combination of environmental and social research to help to fill critical knowledge gaps and facilitate sustainable decision-making practices. Autonomous underwater vehicles will examine seabed habitats and species, while stakeholder engagement will seek to understand uncertainty and knowledge gaps in decision making. BOWIE will support industry, regulators and policy makers in implementing robust approaches to offshore wind development in consideration of marine environmental recovery, biodiversity and net gain targets.


The BOWIE project will enable robust decision making by examining the impact of offshore wind expansion on seabed invertebrate and fish species, taking into consideration other pressures on the marine environment including: construction noise and vibration, electromagnetic fields and elevated temperatures associated with cabling. BOWIE will deliver this by:

Working with stakeholders and decision makers to understand any knowledge gaps and uncertainties of how marine ecosystems will respond to expansion of offshore wind development

Using autonomous underwater vehicles and machine learning to determine the dynamics of seabed invertebrate and fish communities and their interactions across species and habitats

Examining species and ecosystem-level responses to a combination of anthropogenic pressures, including offshore wind in the context of climate change

Supporting policy makers in decision making relating to offshore wind development by implementing a new integrated decision-support system, encompassing all relevant ecological, social and economic information

BOWIE will deliver several outputs to inform robust approaches to marine environmental recovery, biodiversity and net environmental gain targets. Through working closely with key industry and government stakeholders the project will facilitate informed decision making relating to the expansion of offshore wind by providing a detailed understanding of seabed habitats and species and their interactions with the wider marine ecosystem and quantifying impacts of offshore wind development and other anthropogenic activity on seabed habitats and species within the context of climate change.

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