United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Dong backs bird assessment drone trial

UK: Dong Energy has helped fund a trial looking at the use of drones to assess the numbers of birds nesting on a cliff.

The drone pictures were able to distinguish between a razorbill (left) and a guillemot (pic: RSPB)
The drone pictures were able to distinguish between a razorbill (left) and a guillemot (pic: RSPB)

Dong said the successful trial would feed in to its environmental impact reports for its future UK offshore projects, including the Hornsea Project Three site, the company said.

A drone, provided by consultancy Niras, was used to count the number of nesting birds at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve at Bempton Cliffs, in Yorkshire, on England's east coast.

The drone was able to get close enough to distinguish bird species and numbers, but not so close as to disturb them.

"In the event, the birds showed minimal interest in the drone which produced photos detailed enough to distinguish between guillemots and razorbills, two species of auk that look very similar when observed from a distance," Dong said.

Previously, wildlife assessment was conducted on a boat, which is much more dependent on weather and has time constraints.

Dong's proposed Hornsea Project Three has the potential to support 1-2GW of offshore wind.

It will be located further east than Hornsea Project Two, which secured government approval in August 2016 for a site 89 kilometres off the UK's east coast.

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