Five-Star Bird Accommodation: Hornsea Three Artificial Nesting Structures For Kittiwakes

Consent for Ørsted’s Hornsea Three Offshore Wind Farm was awarded on the basis that compensation measures to offset bird mortality risks would be implementedGoBe Consultants undertook the licensing components of a suite of Artificial Nesting Structures (ANS) designed to compensate for potential impacts to black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactylathrough the installation of three nearshore Artificial Nesting Structures at two sites off the East Suffolk coast. Constructing these structures in the nearshore environment is the first of its kind, with each structure being bespoke and specific to the landscape characteristics of each location. 

As part of consent requirements for the construction of Hornsea Three, Ørsted are required to implement a suite of ANS to compensate for the potential mortality of adult kittiwake associated with the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area (FFC SPA) from the risk of collision with the operational turbines.

Post-consent, GoBe supported Ørsted with the licensing components to implement the compensation measure, which specifically includes the provision of nearshore ANS each designed to support 467 breeding pairs of kittiwake. It is envisaged that the installation of these structures will provide additional nesting space to ensure that the worst-case potential impacts from Hornsea Three on this degnated feature of the FFC SPA are offset.

GoBe acted as lead EIA consultant in the examination, and continues to provide support to the Offshore Ornithology Engagement Group (OOEG), a steering group including statutory nature bodies such as Natural England, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which helps inform decisions regarding the design, construction and monitoring of the ANS. 

Once the design and placement of the structures were agreed upon, a Marine Licence was required to ensure the construction of the structures themselves did not have a negative impact on the environment. GoBe developed the assessments for the Supporting Environmental Information (SEI) and Report to Inform Appropriate Assessment (RIAA) as part of the Marine Licence Application.

Jessica George, Senior Consultant and Project Manager for GoBe Consultants, said: 

“It has been fantastic working collaboratively with Ørsted on this state of the art approach to providing compensation for kittiwake. This novel approach will help to support the kittiwake population and demonstrates the creativity that can be applied to compensation measures.”

A team of architects, engineers and ecologists were commissioned to design the structures in collaboration with local stakeholders within the Offshore Ornithology Engagement Group (OOEG). The structures are the first to be installed in the nearshore environment, and as well as being the first of their kind, the kittiwake structures at Hornsea Three are unique due to their size.

Emma Darnell, Environment and Consents Specialist at Ørsted, said:

“In creating a world that runs entirely on green energy, we’re also determined to protect and enhance the natural world. The development of these structures demonstrates a creative way to conserve nature whilst combatting climate change by building the world’s largest offshore wind farm.”

The agreement for the ANS initiated by Hornsea Three has led the way for other renewable energy developers to consider the concept as a way forward for bird compensation. Developed through extensive consultation and discussions with Natural England the RSPB and the MMOGoBe are confident that the ANS will meet the compensation criteria

About GoBe Consultants:

GoBe Consultants joined the APEM Group in May 2022. Meeting the demand for strategic solutions and project specific experts to support planning and environmental plans, GoBe work in projects in offshore wind, marine renewables, marine aggregates, coastal infrastructure and subsea cabling. Working closely with developers in the UK, Europe and the US, we provide informed and accurate advice and technical expertise, sharing our in-depth knowledge and understanding of the consenting process for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) and offshore wind developments.

About Ørsted:

Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, renewable hydrogen and green fuels facilities, and bioenergy plants. Ørsted is recognised on the CDP Climate Change A List as a global leader on climate action and was the first energy company in the world to have its science-based net-zero emissions target validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs approx. 9,000 people (January 2024).