Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Offshore wind farms impact assessment on the Catalan beaches’ tourism demand of the Catalan coast.

This study assessed the impact of the construction of offshore wind farms on beach users’ behaviour on the Catalan coast. Four scenarios were considered, each with different distances to the shore and windfarm density, and a model developed to calculate and assess the impact of the development on peoples' use of the affected beaches.

The model and the procedures developed should be applied for each new windfarm since the visual impact is dependent upon the morphology of the coastline, the use and characteristics of the different coastal segments and the location and characteristics of the offshore wind farm deployed. This method enables the comparison of different locations especially when coastline is not regular.

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It was found that if  an offshore windfarm is installed in front of a beach, a reduction of 10%-13% in the number of users is observed.

The impact on number of beach users was quantified for four scenarios using a combination of two variables: windfarm density (high/low) and distance (near (300m) / far (3000m)), resulting in the following scenario combinations: High/Near; High/Far; Low/Near and Low/Far.

A model was developed to calculate the impact of a windmill farm on the Catalan coast. Using this model the impact of an offshore wind farm was studied, taking into account the distance to the coast and wind farm visibility variation due to coast morphology. This model was used to calculate the impact of two hypothetical offshore wind farms located in front of two Catalan beaches: La Barceloneta and La Fosca.

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When the coastline is rectilinear the impact of a wind turbine/wind farm decreases when the distance increases. For sawtooth coastline, it has been observed that at short distances the impact could be lower than for long distances because the coastline shape could hide the visibility of the wind farm.

These results indicate that coastal morphology is important when determining the impact of a windfard because it influences visibility. The model proposed allows analysis of specific case studies with a specific location of the wind turbines, a specific coastline morphology and distance from the wind farm to the coastline.

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No significant differences are observed between national beach users and international beach users. On the other hand, differences are observed among different beach typologies, being that natural beaches are more sensitive to installation of a wind farm than urban beaches.

Regardless of the chosen scenario, the installation of an offshore wind farm could result in a reduction of 40% of the users of a natural beach and 15% of the users of an urban beach. For semi-urban (or mixed) beaches, reduction would be between 15-40%.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Directive
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive
Data availability:

Data used: See deliverable D3.3.1

Where it is held: LEITAT

Contact: Magí Galindo, mgalindo@lenospanospammitat.org

Lead Author:

Pau Pérez & Laia Piñol
(magigalnospamindo@leitat.org)
LEITAT Technological Centre
Date of research: July 2014

Related articles:

Impact of jellyfish on fisheries and tourism 

Analysis of changes in species distributions 

Aquaculture and invasive species in Venice Lagoon 

Bioaccumulation of metals in blue mussels

Changes in the upper trophic level: impact on fish

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.