Funding worth GBP 1.8 million (USD 2.5 million) has been awarded to a group of European scientific institutions as part of an initiative to improve the understanding of the influence of man-made structures, such as oil and gas platforms, wind farms and shipwrecks, on the marine environment in the North Sea.
Details of the eight projects were revealed at the 16th North Sea Decommissioning Conference in Oslo.
The funding is being made available within the Foundation Phase of the INSITE Programme, with recipients selected by an international group of scientists who make up INSITE’s Independent Scientific Advisory Board.
This is the first tranche of research to be undertaken through INSITE and is to be concluded by the end of 2017.
The objectives of the research programme are two-fold. The first is to identify the magnitude of the effects of man-made structures on the ecosystem over time and around the structures themselves. The second is to determine the extent to which these structures represent an inter-connected system of hard substrate and the effect that may have on the marine environment.
INSITE programme director Richard Heard said: “Very little work has been undertaken to date on the relationship between man-made structures and the ecosystem of the North Sea. The research projects to be funded through INSITE will therefore be invaluable in providing the science needed to better understand the interaction with the marine environment and, ultimately, better inform decision making processes.”