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INSITE Synthesis

Offshore drilling rig

Completed project

Project start: January 2022  |  Project end: December 2023
Funder: NERC
Principal Investigator: Dr Paul J. Somerfield
Other participants from PML: Stephen Watson, Nicola Beaumont

With the development of the blue economy, and shift to offshore renewable energy thousands of man-made structures (MMS) have been installed around the world. With the potential for these MMS to have significant pressures and effects on marine ecosystems at all stages of their life cycle – installation, operation and decommissioning – the effects are currently not wholly understood or agreed on scientifically.

Furthermore, one of the key questions in managing MMS is how nation states will manage the delivery of net zero requirements offshore, together with marine environmental restoration goals, linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals amongst others. A consensus needs to be reached around decommissioning practices, and the risks and benefits of leaving MMS in place.

INSITE Synthesis is a collaborative project, led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory, that aims to provide independent scientific evidence base to understand the influence of MMS on the ecosystem of the North Sea and inform policy and regulatory decisions. With the complex nature of marine systems and their management, a world-wide consortium of scientists from across the whole system will take a systems analysis approach to determine causes, consequences and management responses to change.


The project will produce a position paper setting out the consensus view on the environmental implications of deploying MMS at scale, leaving it non-operational in situ, and removing it with details of ecosystem and societal consequences and trade-offs.