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Title: Framework for assessing impacts of pile-driving noise from offshore wind farm construction on a harbour seal population

Offshore wind farm developments may impact protected marine mammal populations, requiring appropriate assessment under the EU Habitats Directive. We describe a framework developed to assess population level impacts of disturbance from piling noise on a protected harbour seal population in the vicinity of proposed wind farm developments in NE Scotland. Spatial patterns of seal distribution and received noise levels are integrated with available data on the potential impacts of noise to predict how many individuals are displaced or experience auditory injury. Expert judgement is used to link these impacts to changes in vital rates and applied to population models that compare population changes under baseline and construction scenarios over a 25 year period. We use published data and hypothetical piling scenarios to illustrate how the assessment framework has been used to support environmental assessments, explore the sensitivity of the framework to key assumptions, and discuss its potential application to other populations of marine mammals. -- Highlights: • We develop a framework to support Appropriate Assessment for harbour seal populations. • We assessed potential impacts of wind farm construction noise. • Data on distribution of seals and noise were used to predict effects on individuals. • Expert judgement linked these impactsmore » to vital rates to model population change. • We explore the sensitivity of the framework to key assumptions and uncertainties.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [5]
  1. University of Aberdeen, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty IV11 8YL (United Kingdom)
  2. Scottish Oceans Institute, SMRU Limited, New Technology Centre, North Haugh, St Andrews KY16 9RS (United Kingdom)
  3. Subacoustech Environmental Ltd., Unit 9, Claylands Road, Bishops Waltham, Southampton, Hampshire SO32 1QD (United Kingdom)
  4. Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Solomons, MD 20688 (United States)
  5. Natural Power Consultants, The Green House, Forrest Estate, Dalry, Castle Douglas DG7 3XS (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22246911
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 43; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION; HABITAT; HARBORS; INJURIES; MAMMALS; NOISE; SEALS; SENSITIVITY; UNITED KINGDOM; WIND TURBINE ARRAYS