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Environmental impacts of offshore wind farms: PML research features in MDE Impact Report

17 October 2023

‘The Marine Data Exchange (MDE) is the first-of-its-kind and a world leading digital platform of industry survey data, research and evidence that was created by The Crown Estate in 2013. It provides a digital platform for offshore industries to share survey data collected throughout the lifetime of offshore projects, and hosts new data and research generated through programmes.’ [Source: Marine Data Exchange website] 

We’re delighted to see that our new evidence base on the impacts of offshore wind farm developments has been featured in the report. Given the rapid expansion of offshore wind energy to meet ambitious global Net Zero targets by 2050, it is more important than ever to improve and streamline offshore wind development. However, whilst the shift to low-carbon energy pathways can alleviate pressures on natural resources and offer co-benefits, it can also lead to negative impacts. As a result, it’s important to embed environmental research into the design of UK energy systems. 

‘The MDE aims to ensure that existing data and evidence drives positive impact, whilst identifying and addressing data and evidence gaps. The significant evidence base on the MDE – which is currently over 260TB of data – will be important in accelerating offshore wind deployment to reach net zero by 2050, achieving energy security, and in driving holistic evidence-based decisions that support the protection and enhancement of the marine environment. By making this wealth of data freely available through cutting-edge technology, we give offshore projects in the UK a valuable head start, helping those involved to make informed, evidence-based decisions and address consenting and planning challenges.’ [Source: Marine Data Exchange website] 

Dr Claire Szostek, whose profile features in the MDE Impact Report alongside her work on the evidence base on the impacts of offshore wind farm developments, said: 

“At PML, we have developed the first comprehensive database of global primary and UK grey literature on the environmental impacts and ecosystem service outcomes of offshore wind farm developments on the marine environment. Ultimately, the goal is to provide decision-makers with the information they need - through an open-access and central evidence base - to inform the best possible choices, for both the environment and society." 

“This database has been designed to be used by any party involved in the development of offshore wind farms, including decision makers, scientists, and project promoters – including the bodies responsible for planning and regulating the use of UK marine space [e.g., the Crown Estate], offshore wind operators and conservation agencies.”  

“It could also be a useful evidence base when considering Strategic Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment stages of planning offshore wind projects.” 

Visit the PML Offshore Wind Farm Impacts Database >> 



View the Marine Data Exchange Impact Report here >> 



Related information

This was done as part of the UK Energy Research Council’s (UKERC) Energy, Environment and Landscapes project, which applies ecosystem service and natural capital approaches to understand the environmental implications of changes in UK energy systems. This work also builds on the DREAMS: Decommissioning - Relative Effects of Alternative Management Strategies project which is led by PML, the University of Plymouth (UoP, UK) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas, UK) including the work of Lemasson et al., 2022. 
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