LiDAR image of gannets

LiDAR image of gannets

And we’re delighted to say that Natural England, the UK’s nature and conservation body, recently endorsed its use in their best practice advice.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology is a standard tool within the construction industry today. It is so prevalent today that any person who can afford a new iPhone Pro is, in fact, buying LiDAR technology. It works by firing out thousands of laser pulses and then measuring the time it takes to bounce back (‘Time of Flight’).

APEM’s application of LiDAR in the offshore wind industry has taken the technology a step further. When LiDAR data is gathered alongside our ultra-high resolution surveys, APEM can accurately measure the flight heights of seabirds and gain a better understanding of avian interactions with wind turbines. Through our proprietary registration process, we effectively integrate the ultra-high resolution photography that APEM is known for with the most accurate geospatial positioning technology (LiDAR), resulting in every photo collected being registered to its geospatial ‘height’ (and more!).

Natural England* said in their report:

“This is a promising approach, with initial studies indicating a high degree of accuracy. One key consideration is the need for LiDAR to be accompanied by digital imagery to confirm the presence of a bird and identify it to species level, as well as how birds are then matched to flight heights. However, Natural England consider this to be a useful method which, if it could be deployed appropriately, would be able to produce a large database of observations that could potentially be used to derive a standardised set of flight height data.”

Digital aerial surveys are already Natural England’s preferred way of surveying seabirds, due to the lack of disturbance (or attraction) compared with boat-based surveys, lack of observer bias, and accessibility by being able to fly above wind farms and covering the whole area. There is an inherent cost advantage for our clients too: by covering large areas in a single flight, we gather permanent data that can be revisited in the future if the developer’s needs change.

APEM Inc Ultra-high resolution image of a roseate tern

Ultra-high resolution image of a Roseate Tern

The images we acquire on our surveys are of incredible quality, and can be used to create a permanent record of the birds seen, as well as being used for modeling for marine mammals and seabirds. Because the data are permanent, they can be subjected to subsequent quality assurance and can be archived and revisited if necessary.

Contact us to discuss how LiDAR can transform your environmental data capture and analysis.

*Source: Parker, J., Banks, A., Fawcett, A., Axelsson, M., Rowell, H., Allen, S., Ludgate, C., Humphrey, O., Baker, A. & Copley, V. (2022a). Offshore Wind Marine Environmental Assessments: Best Practice Advice for Evidence and Data Standards. Phase I: Expectations for pre-application baseline data for designated nature conservation and landscape receptors to support offshore wind applications. Natural England. Version 1.1. 79 pp.

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