The United Kingdom government’s renewable energy strategy has a target of providing 10% of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources by 2010, and 15% by 2015. A significant expansion of offshore wind energy is an important component of this strategy. The UK’s first large-scale offshore wind farm, at North Hoyle in Wales, was commissioned in November 2003, and a second development at Scroby Sands is nearing completion. Further major developments are planned at the Thames Estuary, the Greater Wash and in the North West. The wind energy industry has concerns as to whether underwater noise during the construction and operation of windfarms might have the capacity to cause environmental effects, such as avoidance by marine mammals and fish. Since these effects of underwater noise are not yet fully understood, the Collaborative for Offshore Wind Research Into the Environment (COWRIE) instructed Subacoustech Ltd (via the offices of The Crown Estate) to investigate these matters.
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