Demand for marine consultancy is growing and our consultants have been commissioned on a wide variety of work including Water Framework Directive assessments for multiple construction and dredging works in the Thames, enabling our clients to gain marine licences and proceed with their projects. We have also provided expert advice and produced detailed scientific reports for projects on the South Coast and the Severn, and in the North Sea, Ireland and Saudi Arabia.
The team recently assessed the marine environmental impact of the decommissioning of a gas platform in the North Sea.
This work was especially important because, while the platform was operational, the surrounding sand bank habitat was designated as a Special Area of Conservation, affording it international legal conservation protection under the EU Habitats Directive.
The commission involved offshore marine surveys, the processing of survey samples by our laboratory, statistical analysis and reporting. We carried out an offshore survey of the area in 2014, repeating a survey previously undertaken in 2012 before the platform was decommissioned. This included taking grab samples for chemical and biological analysis, images and video at each sampling station as well as swathe bathymetry to create a detailed picture of the sea bed.
Our marine laboratory processed the biological and particle size analysis samples. We found that the number of individual animals recorded in the samples had increased from 2012, but that the species composition had not changed. Our analysis indicated that the works had not had a negative effect on marine fauna. Chemical analysis of the sediment indicated that, although levels of chemicals in the sediment had increased since 2012, the levels were below thresholds of concern and were unlikely to have a negative impact on the marine environment.
Overall an excellent outcome.