NBC Environment were contacted by an oil and gas company to consult and advise on their application for a bird licence which is necessary to complete the decommissioning of redundant oil and gas platforms in UK waters as part of the UK’s target for reducing the use of carbon fuels.
There were three stages of work.
Consultation – Supporting the formulating of the strategy for the successful application of a bird licence issued by OPRED which is required to complete the works during the breeding season for seabirds.
The application was based on species, numbers and historical bird activity and what were the alternatives to consider for avoiding conflict with the birds during this time, considerations such as moving the work or deploying humane bird control methods to reduce the impact.
Operational – Preparation would include BOSIET training for falconers who would be Vantage qualified for working offshore and with sufficient cover for rotation of shifts and built-in contingency reserves. Considerable preparation and training required to have birds fit and accustomed to working in an open-sea offshore environment. Understanding what welfare facilities the birds will need. Deploying additional appropriate bird control equipment to supplement the falconry programme so that it can be operational in all kinds of weather. 28 years of experience of working successfully on a variety of different onshore programmes including nuclear decommissioning sites, dealing with large colonies of gulls and kittiwakes in coastal environments were all transferable learning. NBC can deploy a depth of falconry experience with different species of trained birds of prey, such as falcons and hawks, for different effective strategies around and below the platform, being prepared and adaptive capable of dealing with nearly all bird behaviours as it changes around the platform. Preparation and experience is key to working offshore with such large number of birds and being isolated in such a remote environment, you need to be able to anticipate the challenges and come prepared.
Reporting – Collating data and information is key to understanding your effectiveness and allows us to review our strategy. This information is also required to compile a report for OPRED as part of the licensing conditions. NBC will use this information also to create a case study as there is no precedence previously set for this type of work offshore. Our operational reporting is also supported with independent auditing by an ornithologist at regular intervals to help review and inform the strategy so we can adjust the deterrent programme if required.