There was no significant disruption to marine life during the first year of operations at Robin Rigg, Natural Power's marine environmental monitoring report has concluded. The consultancy prepared the report for the 180MW wind farm's owner, E.ON. Its publication was one of the commitments required under a Marine Environment Monitoring Plan (MEMP) agreed and developed with the Robin Rigg Management Group (RRMG).
Located in the Solway Firth and comprising 60 Vestas V90-3MW turbines, Robin Rigg is Scotland's first commercial offshore wind farm. The report assessed data collected prior to its construction (2001 – 2007), during construction (December 2007 – February 2010) and during the first operational year (March 2010 – February 2011).
The MEMP's remit was to monitor key uncertainties and record any changes to the physical and ecological environment, caused by the wind farm's construction and operation. Data were gathered on the diversity, abundance and distribution of birds, marine mammals, fish and shellfish, in and around the site.
Surveys revealed the presence of 38 fish species and over 150 types of invertebrate. In and around the site and cable route, 38 bird species and 2 marine mammal species were observed. An increase in the distribution and utilisation of areas of the Solway Firth by cormorants and gulls was also observed, alongside potential displacement effects during construction for auk species.
But the report concluded that there was little evidence that construction and operation of the wind farm had had any significant or permanent impact upon marine life, in the immediate or surrounding area. The full report is available to download on Marine Scotland's website. Reports examining operational years two to five will follow.