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Intertek appointed for specialist study

22nd January 2017

Intertek have been appointed by the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to study potential impacts associated with rock dumping during the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure on mobile sandbanks.

Saturn Reef Candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC)
Saturn Reef Candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC)

The study will focus on the North Sea’s North Norfolk and Saturn Reef Candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) and Site of Community Importance (SCI), which include a series of ten main sandbanks and associated fragmented smaller banks formed as a result of tidal processes as well as biogenic reefs.

Intertek Energy & Water will use its extensive knowledge of the physical and biological environment of the North Sea, gained from 30 years working on marine and coastal infrastructure projects, to deliver this study for JNCC. The study will compare typical sediment profiles and characteristics associated with oil and gas rock dumping operations, with those within North Norfolk and Saturn Reef cSAC/ SCI. It will also assess the potential physical impacts that rock dumping, associated with oil and gas decommissioning, may have on mobile sandbanks and their biological communities, considering their size and natural variability. 

Improving the understanding of how decommissioning operations can affect these features will help ensure that protected sites such as these reach favourable condition and can maximise their contribution to the marine protected area network. Improving understanding will also enable more accurate advice to regulators and other interested parties, will support site specific and national impact assessments, and allow competent authorities to undertake a more robust decision-making process. 

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