This year the health of our marine life and the potential for offshore wind to provide clean and sustainable electricity and deliver energy security have been brought into sharp focus. Conflict in Ukraine has increased the urgency with which we must all transition to secure and clean new energy supplies. The time to establish a clear route to market and accelerate offshore wind has never been more urgent. However, our marine environment is in a dire state. This is indicated by the ongoing declines in the number of breeding seabirds, which, as top predators, are clear indicators of the health of our marine environment. Nature does not recognise political and geographical boundaries, and the failure to achieve Good Environmental Status in the UK is a clear warning that our shared seas are struggling.
Through a collaboration of environmental NGOs and the offshore wind sector, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has set out an ambitious but pragmatic approach placing offshore wind within a wider context of marine management that is good for nature, climate and people. This collaboration is summarised in the report ‘Powering Healthy Seas: Accelerating Nature Positive Offshore Wind’, where RSPB stresses the need for a robust evidence base, spatial marine plans, adaptive management, and the value of strategic compensation. This is placed within the wider context of marine ecosystem resilience, through fisheries management, effect marine protected areas and colony biosecurity programmes.
Crucially, the approach outlined in this report recognises offshore wind as a key driver to achieve positive change and calls for Nature Positive offshore wind to lead the way in government action. A true net zero will not be possible without healthy ecosystems as our ally. Offshore wind can be the catalyst for this change.
The Offshore Coalition for Energy and Nature, the Renewables Grid Initiative and RSPB held an informative online discussion on the outcomes of this report on the afternoon of 29 September 2022. Presentations from Samuel Wrobel and Helen Quayle from RSPB were followed by input from key contributors to the report, including Juliette Webb on behalf of RenewableUK, and a Q&A session with the report authors.
Watch the recording, download the presentation slides and read the full report below!