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Assessing the impacts to vessel traffic from offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary

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The development of offshore renewable energy installations can introduce additional hazards to the safe navigation of shipping in often already crowded waterways. Developers and decision makers must predict and properly manage the potential risks imposed on navigating vessels from wind farm developments, in a complex and uncertain environment. Considerable analysis has been undertaken to model navigational risks to vessel traffic around wind farms; however this work is generally predictive and there is little understanding as to whether the modelling, central to the consideration of navigation safety, accurately reflects the postconstructed navigation risks. It is therefore important for decision makers to understand the uncertainties present in the analysis, both in terms of the assessment of risk and the implementation of any risk reduction measures. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the change in vessel traffic in the Thames Estuary before and after the construction of five offshore wind farms. The analysis demonstrates how the impact on vessel traffic is specific to the location of each development, driven by traffic management measures and other local constraints. Therefore the accurate modelling of this impact requires the input of experienced navigators, regulators and other knowledgeable stakeholders. The results of this analysis can be used to improve the predictive modelling of vessel traffic around offshore wind farms and other offshore installations, leading to a reduction in the uncertainty of vessel traffic modelling in the future.
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Bibliogr. 23 poz., rys., tab.
  • Marico Marine, (Marine and Risk Consultants Ltd) Bramshaw, Southampton, SO43 7JB, UK
  • Marico Marine, (Marine and Risk Consultants Ltd) Bramshaw, Southampton, SO43 7JB, UK
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