Detailed study of the potential impacts on local fisheries of a 500MW offshore wind farm planned for the Bay of Saint Brieuc, off France's Brittany coast, has begun. Thirty months of research is being carried out by consultants In Vivo Environnement on behalf of Ailes Marines, a consortium established by Iberdrola and Eole-RES, that was awarded permission to develop the project last April.
In Vivo's work will determine the current state of populations of spider crabs, whelks, bivalves and demersal fish. The company is conducting some of its research in partnership with members of the local fishing industry. Simultaneously, French marine research centre, Ifremer, is studying the scallop population at the site.
Last autumn, surveys began of sea birds, marine mammals and bats in the area. These are being carried out over two years by In Vivo, GEOCA for missions at sea, Pixair Survey for aerial observation, and Maison de la Chauve-Souris for night observations.
The results of all these studies will feed into the project's environmental impact assessment (EIA), which will form the major part of Ailes Marines' application to construct the facility. This must be submitted to authorities by April 2014.
The Saint Brieuc project will soon enter a period of official national public debate, which will be overseen by a government body. Due to begin on 25 March and to close on 24 July, Ailes Marines has submitted its presentation to the committee in charge of organising the debate.
The project's next major deadline is October, when Ailes Marines must submit technical information demonstrating feasibility. This will include topological, oceanographic, meteorological and bathymetric data, as well as geotechnical and geophysical survey results.
GeoSea has completed its geophysical and geotechnical studies, which included drilling 11 boreholes to a depth of 30m and removing nearly 300 cores. These are being analysed by the UK's Soil Engineering Laboratories, a process which will take several months. The results will allow the consortium to determine if its choice of jacket foundations is technically feasible.