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Looking Forward: Priority Research Projects for Marine Renewables

ORJIP Ocean Energy released the first draft of its ‘Forward Look’ report recently. It is an important step towards reducing the consenting risk for marine renewables projects in the UK.

ORJIP (Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme) Ocean Energy is an initiative to deal with the delays and difficulties involved in obtaining consent for wave and tidal developments. One key are of focus is Environmental Impact Assessments and Habitat Regulations Assessments, where sometimes there is very little relevant research on which to base the assessments, or where the data that is available has been obtained using new techniques.

The aim of the programme is therefore to identify and prioritise those areas where further research is necessary and to coordinate the research projects that follow. The hope is that this collaborative approach will help to reduce costs, avoid duplication and speed up decision-making.

After several years of industry-wide discussions, ORJIP Ocean Energy has now published a list of strategic research projects. The Forward Look paper  highlights 21 areas of research as a top priority, but stresses that this is only the first version of the programme. In particular, it warns that initial discussions did not consider tidal range research, and data gaps in this area will be identified in later drafts.

ORJIP Ocean Energy will now focus on progressing research in the high priority areas. While it will not be able to fund the research directly it will work to support and facilitate relevant projects and is seeking to engage with companies and organisations involved in funding and carrying out such research.

According to Kirsty MacArthur (Legal Director), "It is an exciting initiative and one that we believe will have a positive impact on marine renewables. Coordinated research is much more effective than research carried out piecemeal, particularly when there is so much of it still to do!"



Seabird Demography: Density dependence and age at first breeding

Seabird demography has been shown to be density dependent in many ways but a new paper by Professor Bob Furness has revealed a link between seabird population growth rate and the age of first breeding.


The paper - Density dependence in seabirds: Great Skuas Stercorarius skua start to breed at a younger age when conditions are better - is based on decades-long research carried out on Foula, west of Shetland. This included the cohort colour ringing of Great Skua chicks and the trapping of immatures and nesting adults, with the result that, overall, a significant proportion of the birds studied were of known age.


According to Professor Furness, principal ornithologist at MacArthur Green, the results revealed considerable individual variation in the age of first breeding, depending on the body condition of the birds in question, but several trends were evident:


·         In smaller colonies of Great Skuas, breeding began at an earlier age than on Foula;

·         A deterioration in conditions on Foula resulted in an increase in the age of first breeding.


“Modelling indicates that an increase in the age of first breeding of one year would decrease population growth rate by about 1% per annum,” says the paper.


It suggests that further study, on other seabird species, may be worthwhile. 


For more information, please read:



NERC CASE Studentship for a PhD study

MacArthur Green and Glasgow University have been successful in winning a NERC studentship to model the impacts of marine renewables on seabird populations. Britain has become the world leader in offshore renewables, and also holds internationally important populations of many seabird species. This project will address the urgent need for a tool assessing direct and indirect impacts of renewables on seabirds, assisting developers and regulators in resolving this important human-wildlife conflict. We are looking for an excellent student interested in a career at the interface between spatial and population ecology. The ideal applicant will have an aptitude for quantitative methods and experience in ecology, spatial statistics or mathematical modelling. Applications (via Glasgow University) are due by 6 February 2015.

Further details are at

The Judges Award goes to MacArthur Green!

MacArthur Green won The Judges Award last night at the prestigious Scottish Green Energy Awards 2014. This accolade is in recognition of the company’s contribution to the renewable energy industry.


Company director David MacArthur said he was delighted by the news of the award. “We have had a great few years, and I feel this is fantastic affirmation that our team of ecology and ornithology specialists are widely respected for their knowledge and professionalism.”

MacArthur Green has had a solid five years of growth, and has acted as a key adviser in some highly notable renewable energy projects. We have also been involved in the production of key guidance documents for the marine and offshore sectors and statutory.

As David said on the night, none of this would be possible without our terrific team and clients.

Our sincere thanks go to the judges.