Ecological Implications of Accelerated Seabed Mobility around Windfarms
Lead Principal Investigator: Dr Katrien Van Landeghem, Bangor University


When natural currents in the sea deviate around wind turbine foundations or anchors, the forces on the seabed enhance, disturbing sediments. This can change the shape and sediment composition of the seabed, alter the location of fish preyed on by seabirds and reduce the clarity of the water, potentially affecting areas far beyond the windfarms themselves. The climate crisis will exacerbate this, and it will extend to coastal zones, as future storm waves and rising sea levels will alter the ways energy from the sea is transferred to the seabed. The combined changes have associated effects on habitats, ecosystem services, and wildlife populations that surround offshore wind sites, both locally and further afield.

By understanding the extent and implications of these changes, ECOWind-ACCELERATE will work out the relative scales of different impacts on the seabed, supporting progress towards the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and proposing measures to monitor and mitigate against negative impacts.


Using the Eastern Irish Sea as a case study area, ECOWind-ACCELERATE aims to:

Predict the effects of changes to the seabed following the installation of offshore windfarms, and in the wider context of climate change.

Quantify the implications of such changes for biodiversity, ecosystem services, marine habitats, and interactions between seabird populations and their food.

Identify opportunities for the integration of wider conservation efforts with mitigation against negative impacts and to support biodiversity net gain initiatives.

Develop understanding on data gathering effectiveness at a large scale, to ensure accurate predictions of future seabed changes in a cost-effective way.

ECOWind-ACCELERATE will deliver a range of outputs that speak to the three core aims of the ECOWind programme. In particular, the project will support the development of environmental simulations and prediction systems across a range of offshore windfarm sizes, use predictive modelling to map behavioural adjustments in key species, and develop a public-facing tool that allows stakeholders to understand the potential impacts of offshore wind developments on marine habitats in their region.

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