RPS Ltd, acting on Bristol Channel Zone Ltd's behalf as the lead Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultant for the atlantic Array project, undertook a number of specific technical disciplines, including the marine ecology aspects of the project. In order to characterise the benthic ecology of the proposed development site, potential export cable routes and surrounding area, for the purpose of informing the EIA process, subtidal benthic sampling was undertaken using a combined benthic grab (0.1m2 Hamon grab) and drop down video (DDV) sampling method. Following review of the geophysical data, benthic sampling locations within the Atlantic Array development site and export cable routes were refined to ensure that all broad scale sediment types and seabed features identified by the geophysical survey were adequately represented in the sampling array. The sampling array was also designed to ensure that all previously identified biotopes present in the survey area were also adequately sampled (Mackie et al., 2006). The survey specification was further refined following consultation with statutory and non-statutory consultees. Samples for both physical (particle size analysis) and biological (benthic infaunal analysis) were collected from each grab sample. Epibenthic trawls were also undertaken in order to collect information on epibenthic invertebrate species, as well as small demersal and juvenile fish. In addition, separate potting surveys for crab and whelk have been undertaken. The purpose of these surveys is to inform the characterisation of shellfish resources within the wind farm site and to provide a baseline suitable for future pre/post construction monitoring of these species should a need for this be identified during the EIA process. Finally, a series of otter trawl surveys have been conducted. The study will provide information on the spatial and temporal variability of commercially targeted fish (and shellfish) species and non-commercial associated species assemblages prior to the development of the Atlantic Array OWF. These surveys will serve to increase the rigour of the marine ecology description used in support of impact assessments on this resource as part of the EIA process.
2011, RPS, Zone 8 - Bristol Channel Atlantic Array, Benthic Ecology Survey Photos