Airborne LiDAR survey for the UK Celtic Sea area

Celtic Sea Power Limited (CSP) has initiated an innovative airborne LiDAR survey campaign in the UK Celtic Sea area. The project aims to develop a comprehensive bird flight height index, facilitated by the Cornwall FLOW Accelerator (CFA) project. The collaboration involves CSP, the University of Exeter, the University of Plymouth, and the Offshore Renewable Catapult, with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The primary objective of this project is to equip the Celtic Sea region with the necessary tools, knowledge, and data to accelerate the potential of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) projects. By developing a bird flight height index, strategic considerations for FLOW developments in the Celtic Sea can be better supported.

The flight plan for the Airborne LiDAR

Mapping Bird Flight Heights

The airborne LiDAR survey campaign will be instrumental in generating data and evidence required to establish a regional bird flight height index for the target area. CSP have worked with Natural England and the Crown Estate to explore the possibilities presented by airborne LiDAR technologies. The plan is to integrate the data and evidence from this LiDAR survey with other relevant datasets, including the 2022/2023 CSP Digital Aerial Survey, covering the wider Celtic Sea area. This holistic approach will facilitate the development of a regional bird density and distribution model, enabling a more strategic assessment of potential species interactions, geographically specific development risks, and the identification of additional data requirements for FLOW assessments in the future.

A lone Gannet from our DAS survey in August 2022

Understanding LiDAR Technology

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that employs laser pulses to measure distances and create highly detailed maps of the environment. In this case, LiDAR technology precisely measures the height at which birds fly above the Celtic Sea from a staggering height of almost 2000ft. By integrating APEM’s digital camera systems with customized flight planning software, the survey flight paths are meticulously defined, ensuring consistent data collection. Furthermore, the LiDAR technology accurately measures bird height during flight, providing reliable data with a resolution down to 2cm. This height data is combined with relevant information such as the date, time, coordinates, and unique identifiers for each bird. APEM’s advanced species identification process supplements the dataset with additional behavioural and environmental information, offering industry-leading levels of species identification.

APEM manned aircraft

Scoping a Baseline

Regulators typically mandate a monthly survey for at least two years to assess the characteristics of offshore wind sites. This extended timeframe accommodates annual fluctuations and ensures comprehensive documentation of various aspects related to bird populations and their distribution. These aspects include behaviour, flight altitudes (indicating feeding patterns or migratory behaviour), and wind speeds. The gathered data provides valuable site-specific information on avian activity. Leveraging this extensive and reliable LiDAR flight height dataset, Celtic Sea Power can confidently contribute to downstream collision risk modelling, minimizing the need for precautionary assessments, particularly for Environmental Impact Assessments and specific monitoring objectives.

Keep an eye out for updates on our progress!

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