As an experienced offshore wind developer Nathalie Stevenson, the Director of Shoney Wind Ltd (SWL) recognised in 2019 that the offshore wind industry would need to deliver kittiwake compensation to offset predicted collision mortality from operating wind farms utilising IROPI (imperative reasons of overriding public interest” (IROPI) rules. At the same time, increasing sea surface temperatures are a significant threat to seabird prey. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is critical to slowing down climate change, thus every effort must be made to allow the wind industry and kittiwakes to co-exist.
In 2019 SWL set out to devise a technically feasible kittiwake compensation mechanism which would be acceptable to statutory nature conservation bodies and satisfy technical, safety and engineering standards within the wind industry.
Having worked on habitat creation and restoration prior to her career in the offshore wind industry, Nathalie undertook a global review of mitigation and enhancement measures trialled and tested for cliff-nesting seabirds. This review led to an exclusive collaboration between SWL and the Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation (ISRC).
The ISRC is a registered not-for-profit that facilitates and conducts seabird research and habitat restoration on Middleton Island, in the Gulf of Alaska. ISRC have unrivalled expertise and experience in supplemental feeding of kittiwake spanning 23 years. ISRC have generated substantial empirical data to evidence the positive effects of supplemental feeding on kittiwake breeding productivity.
SWL set about designing an artificial kittiwake tower which would enable supplemental feeding of kittiwake and enable ‘close-at-hand’ direct monitoring. In addition, SWL set out to ‘design-in’ safe access for ornithologists and ‘design-out’ potential hazards such as rope access work and use of cherry-pickers.
SWL are pleased to announce that outline base case designs for a kittiwake artificial nesting and supplementary feeding tower were completed in July 2020.
SWL is grateful to Peter Shield, the lead Ecologist at Gateshead Council who shared important design, maintenance and monitoring data from the successful kittiwake tower located at Saltmeadows, Gateshead; and grateful to Daniel Turner, who shared invaluable observations and monitoring data of Tyneside’s urban kittiwakes including the Saltmeadows tower.
SWL appointed Francis and Lewis International (FLI) as the design engineers for the kittiwake tower. FLI Structures has over 70 years’ experience in the design, manufacture and installation of external steelwork structures & foundations. FLI is the market leader in both masts & towers, having deployed thousands of towers to the telecom operators & wind industry throughout the UK & worldwide. FLI is the only specialist designer of tower products & screw piles who manufactures steelwork & provides installation services in-house. FLI is a limited company, family owned and run by engineers and as a result are also proven innovators, which Shoney Wind recognised during initial discussions.
Tony Parker, Sales Manager at FLI, outlines “It has been fantastic journey working with Shoney Wind to design & develop an artificial feeding and nesting Kittiwake tower. This innovative design evolved using FLI’s extensive tower range and knowledge, and existing IPR for use on SWL’s bespoke application. The result is a truly unique tower that provides the nesting space for Kittiwakes, and also an internal ‘lab’ for ornithologists to carry out feeding, tagging and monitoring. Safety is of paramount importance at FLI, and having followed the design brief, the new tower enables users to work at height safely, negating the need for trained rope access personnel.”
In line with FLI’s Sustainability policy, the kittiwake tower is modular, adaptable and relocatable which increases the opportunity for re-use on alternate sites and is ultimately 100% recyclable. Subject to ground conditions, screw pile foundations can be used instead of concrete bases. Screw pile foundation provide a huge reduction in CO2 footprint compared to mass concrete and is fully recyclable at end of life. FLI is fully certified to all relevant standards, BS EN ISO 9001, ISO14001, OASAS 18001, CE Marking, plus many other standards. All welders are qualified to BS EN ISO15614-1, using BS EN ISO 9606-1 procedures & certified by UKAS approved witness and are accredited to UKCA, execution Class 4 standards. For more information on FLI, visit www.fli.co.uk
Several activities are underway to secure funding for a pilot study at a confidential location. Baseline breeding colony counts were undertaken by Econorth in 2020. An ornithology monitoring and delivery partner has been identified and a supervisory board of experts proposed.
SWL are seeking expressions of interest from wind farm developers who would be interested in independently or jointly contributing to one or more kittiwake tower deployments. Wind farm developers are invited to express interest by submitting a short form (See Below).
Developers targeting a 2023 or 2025 CfD are particularly encouraged to make contact, as a pilot study will need to be conducted over a minimum of 5 years to demonstrate the return of kittiwake to a new natal colony.
A data room will be established in Q1 2021 and terms of access will be released in due course. Subconsultants and interested third parties are not invited to express interest at this time.
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