The first large-scale aerial study into populations of water birds has been completed in three areas earmarked for offshore wind farm development around Britain's coast. It focuses on the Thames Estuary and the Greater Wash, both off the east coast of England, and the north Irish Sea. These are strategic areas selected by government for the UK's second round of offshore wind development, which aims to deliver between five and seven gigawatts of installed capacity. From the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Peter Cranswick says the report reveals some concentrations of international significance, such as the common scoter and red-throated diver. "There was no detailed knowledge of these bird sites until recently," he adds. The better understanding is due in no small part to the monitoring of birds by offshore wind farm developers. One of the spin-offs of the UK's offshore wind program has been the discovery that greater numbers of birds are to be found around Britain's coasts than previously thought. Large winter numbers of red-throated divers were found by the consortium developing the 1000 MW London Array project in the Thames Estuary, while the discovery of over-wintering populations of common scoter has been a major issue in delaying the round one Shell Flat wind project off Blackpool. The study has been published by the WWT and the Department of Trade and Industry.
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