Specialist sea bed protection work is being undertaken on the Teesside offshore wind farm that could help to increase the marine biodiversity of the area.

EDF Energy Renewables has appointed Marske Site Services (MSS) of Stokesley, near Middlesbrough, to carry out the ‘scour protection’ of the steel monopile foundations sunk up to 30 metres into the sea bed and onto which the wind turbine generators are installed.

The specialist underwater engineering work involves the placement of large nets filled with loose stone around the base of each turbine to offset any removal of sea bed sediment caused by wave and tidal movement.

The work is being undertaken from the Maersk Responder, a specialist subsea construction vessel.

The so called ‘filter units’ – large synthetic fibre mesh enclosed stone bundles – create a porous structure that is positioned on the sea bed to protect it from the effects of scouring, whilst also allowing fish to circulate and creating a new habitat for shellfish and other marine life.

Tim Bland, project manager for Teesside offshore wind farm, said: “Scour protection of the turbine foundations is a fundamental and important engineering requirement for the project to ensure the integrity and stability of the structures.

“However, the placement of these new sea bed rock structures also illustrates how offshore wind farm developments can potentially produce positive effects on the marine environment through their capacity to act as both artificial reefs and fish aggregation devices.

“This new sea bed habitat provision at the base of each turbine can increase biodiversity and the abundance of marine species in the vicinity of the wind farm.”

John McCullagh, director of MSS, said: "We are particularly pleased that MSS has been entrusted with this critical package of work on the Teesside Offshore Wind Farm as we are a local company employing many local people"

16 of the wind farm’s 27 wind turbine generators have now been installed. Work is continuing on the electrical testing and commissioning of those turbines already installed.

When complete, the 2.3MW turbines to be installed off Redcar will be capable of producing up to 62MW of electricity – enough low carbon electricity to power up to 40,000 households.*

* based on information from Digest of UK Energy Statistics and DECC