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  • As part of the UK Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) ongoing sectorial Strategic Environmental Assessment a seabed survey programme (SEA5) was undertaken between August and early October 2003 for the UKCS areas lying between Scotland and Orkney and Shetland. This report summarises the sediment total hydrocarbon and aromatic data generated from the analyses of selected samples from the study areas detailed: Fair Isle - 46 to 198m water depth; Outer Moray Firth A - 61 to 171m; Outer Moray Firth B - 57 to 100m; Sandy Riddle - 30 to 70m; Smith Bank - 39m; Southern Trench - 76 to 252m.

  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA6) a seabed survey was carried out. The survey comprised photography and seabed sediment and water sampling. The purpose of these surveys was to shed light on the distribution and extent of methane-derived autigenic carbonate (MDAC) in the Irish Sea. 942 photographs are available. Cruise report is available.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA2) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). SEA2 focuses on the mature areas of the North Sea UK continental shelf which is divided into 3 areas - Northern, Central and Southern North Sea. The socio-economic effects of licensing the SEA2 area are discussed. The scope of the study includes estimates of the reserves which might be discovered and developed, and the related exploration, appraisal, development and decommissioning costs. The possible phasing of these activities through time is also examined. The effects of the development of new fields in extending the lives of existing ones and the implications for the provision of necessary infrastructure onshore are also examined. The employment generated directly and indirectly in the 3 sub-areas is estimated. The distinction is made between employment at the various stages in the exploration, development and production activities. The significance of the employment opportunities provided for the long-term maintenance of a skilled workforce is also considered.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA4) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The report is a summary of published data and interpretations describes the surficial seabed geology and geological processes affecting the continental shelf part of the SEA4 area, lying in water depths of less than 200 m. Roughly half of the SEA4 area lies in these water depths. The report reviews the seabed geomorphology, near-bottom currents, types of rock outcrop, variations in the texture of the unconsolidated sediments, the variety and distributions of seabed bedforms and selected aspects of the inorganic geochemistry of the sediments. Variations in the seabed geology have a major influence on the organisms that live on the bottom, thus are important to understanding the modern seabed habitat. The modern seabed environment now largely reflects the effects of reworking by near-bottom currents on the topography and the sediments that originated during the glaciations.

  • Cruise report for Multibeam swath bathymetry, sidescan sonar and underwater video survey in the vicinity of Portland Bill as part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA8) . Emu Ltd was commissioned by Geotek Ltd on behalf of the DTI to perform hydrographic and ecological surveys within the vicinity of Portland Bill to further understand regional processes around a tidal headland. Survey work was required specifically to investigate the sediment processes and seabed habitats present.

  • As part of Strategic Environmental Assessment SEA1, sediment samples were collected from the area designated as the White Zone at the request of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as part of its sea-going research activities during summer 2000. The objective of the cruise was to provide a description of the current state of the seabed in the survey area, while providing baseline environmental data and identifying larger-scale environmental patterns and processes. The survey programme was conducted from Charles Darwin between July and September 2000, with samples for a number of chemical and biological analyses being collected. An Excel file containing detail of species abundance is available.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA7) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The coastal and marine areas within the SEA 7 boundary are very extensive, longer and more varied than any other SEA area. Stretching westwards into the Atlantic Ocean, the region includes a very large area of relatively shallow continental shelf. There are also a few uninhabited islands to the west of the Outer Hebrides, including St. Kilda with its multiple conservation designations. The Outer Hebrides form one of the oldest geological provinces in Europe and is mainly based on Lewisian Gneiss. A major geological fault runs parallel to the east coast (The Minch coast), whereas the western side is normally a continuation of the continental shelf. These features are prominent in the southern islands, notably the Uists. Harris and Lewis present different topographies which include the high massif with Clisham at its centre and the low peat-covered plateaux of most of Lewis to the north. The east Minch coastline is generally steeper and falls to deeper inshore waters. It is also characterised by several transverse sea lochs which resemble similar fjords on the west mainland coast. Although the legacy of glacial processes are complex, the main effect has been to over-deepen sea lochs and inter-island straits (e.g. Sound of Harris) and deposit great masses of glacial debris, especially sands, on the shallow continental shelf to the west where, with the prevalence of strong onshore Atlantic waves and winds, vast beaches were formed in this post glacial period. Large quantities of organic sand (crushed shells) were added to this volume; as a consequence some of the larger beach and sand dune systems in Britain are found along the west coast. These extensive blown sand systems are called machairs, and provide a unique series of environmental and ecological systems with very high conservational status at European and international levels. The west coast of the Outer Hebrides contains many sites of archaeological interest and retains a distinctive cultural landscape as one of the last strongholds of a historical system of land tenure and working found nowhere else in Europe. This way of life is considered to be one of the prime reasons for the creation and maintenance of many of the significant conservational attributes of the Outer Hebrides.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA5) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). 30 harbour seals in Orkney and Shetland and 10 in the Wash were captured and satellite tagged between October 2003 and March 2004. Each seal was tracked for an average of 150 days. As anticipated from initial satellite tagging in St Andrews Bay animals were found to travel much further to forage than previously anticipated. A high degree of individual variation in foraging behaviour of animals was found in Orkney and Shetland. The distance travelled to forage ranged between 5 and 150 km. In the Wash foraging behaviour was more consistent, the majority of foraging occurring between 75 and 120 km from haul-outs. The movement data received from the tags, combined with information on the number of animals counted during aerial surveys at haul-outs have been used to predict at-sea usage of the populations in question.

  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) 1999 Strategic Environmental Assessment SEA1 (White Zone) Environmental Survey: Seabed survey of the deep-waters to the north and west of Scotland. The aims were to : Complete TOBI sidescan sonar survey of the "White Zone" begun on RRS Charles Darwin cruise 119C leg A; To carry out photographic surveys of the "White Zone" to ground truth the sidescan sonar imagery and provide an assessment of the seabed fauna; To carry out seabed sampling to further ground truth the sidescan sonar imagery and generate samples for the future analysis of selected environmental parameters (hydrocarbons, elements, particle size). 39 samples were collected. Raw TOBI Bathymetry - includes sidescan sonar, sub-bottom profiler and magnetometer data and Mosaiced TOBI sidescan imagery are available. The survey report is also available. The preliminary report describes the data collection and interpretation carried out by Southampton Oceanography Centre in the summer of 1999 on behalf of the DTI. The areas surveyed were in unlicensed parts of the UKCS NW of Scotland, and the purpose of the work was to obtain regional environmental information. The work was carried out in two survey legs, Leg A was a regional side-scan sonar survey, whilst leg B was a seafloor survey of targets selected from the results of leg 1. This report is presented in 4 sections: Section 1 - Cruise report for Leg A; Section 2 - Cruise report for Leg B; Section 3 - Regional environmental interpretation from side-scan sonar and camera data; Section 4 - Initial environmental assessment.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA6) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). This report reviews the many different sources of underwater noise, both natural and anthropogenic, that combine to provide the background noise levels in which marine organisms need to survive throughout the SEA6 region. The sources of sound combine together in a complex manner resulting in significant spatial and temporal variations in the noise field. A map of the dominant noise sources in the Irish Sea is shown, indicating that man-made noise is the dominant source of noise over about 70% of the area. Shipping noise is likely to be dominant across large parts of the SEA6 area. To fully characterise the ambient noise field in the SEA6 area would require multiple measurements at a large number of locations over a period of a year. However, a considerably lower cost approach would be to characterise each sound source and to use this with occurrence statistics for each source to model the ambient noise field across the region. The advantages and disadvantages of the acoustic modelling approach are discussed.