GoBe Consultants Ltd. (GoBe) is an independent environmental and planning consultancy with broad expertise and a wide range of experience in the offshore, inshore, coastal and onshore development sectors. It is a leading consultancy in the marine renewable energy sector having had major roles on projects with a combined installed capacity of over 26 gigawatts (GW) - providing technical, project management and strategic input throughout the UK and on all phases of development. GoBe understands the full development process. The counsultancy helps clients achieve their objectives using a combination of technical expertise, experience, and innovation to provide both strategic and project level planning and environmental services on major infrastructure developments.
Scope of work: GoBe has supported Sofia with managing and mitigating impacts to marine mammals since 2018. Understanding the risks associated with underwater noise impacts on mammals has been an important component of the project’s development. GoBe has provided specialist advice on the risks to marine mammals from the construction of the project - unexpoloded ordnance (UXO) clearance and piling activity - and how these risks can be avoided, minimised and mitigated. Examples of the strategic advice and support GoBe has provided include:
- Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)
- Monitoring plans
- Documentation for a non-material change amendment to the development consent order
- Environmental information for an UXO marine licence application
- Defining the foundation piling profile in liaison with the project engineers and underwater noise modelling specialists
- HRA (Site Integrity Plan) for the implications of construction on the Southern North Sea - Special Areas of Conservation
- Developing a Marine Mammal Mitigation Protocol for both UXO clearance and foundation piling.
GoBe has also been engaged to support the production of the project’s management plans to discharge consent conditions, including the Project Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan.
Economic and employment impact: GoBe is a leading environmental planning consultancy, with staff having provided advice on the majority of UK offshore wind farms at various stages of their development. The core company offices are in Devon and Glasgow, and GoBe has five staff members actively engaged on the Sofia contract. In addition GoBe is drawing on a number of technical specialist sub-contractors to provide key services (such as underwater noise modelling) as necessary. The Sofia work has enabled the continued growth of GoBe, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, with recruitment ongoing throughout.
Training and development: The Sofia contract enabled the continued development of experienced staff as new techniques and technologies for offshore wind farm construction are constantly explored. Being part of those discussions and close working with the client has enabled GoBe to help mature new concepts in an environmentally-safe and robust manner. Through the Sofia work, junior staff have been introduced to detailed post-consent activity and have had the benefit of hands-on experience as they support the production of documentation, with supervision from experienced staff. Long term contracts, such as these, provide a platform for the business to continue to invest in new recruits, which is key to ensure that the GoBe team is well positioned to play a role in the Green Recovery.
Furthermore, this contract has provided GoBe with a fantastic opportunity for continued learning in offshore wind development as the construction phase is where the true lessons are learned about environmental impact assessments. GoBe's close work with the Sofia development and engineering teams will enable the firm to apply real-world knowledge of construction best practice to future environmental impact assessments, for RWE and the wider industry. There can be uncertainty around the impacts of development in marine environments, but the outputs of contracts such as Sofia's will help build the knowledge base and improve the robustness of assessments in future.
GoBe's rich experience gives junior staff a solid base for their training. A company-wide approach to training ensures that all staff have a rounded background and are effectively taught how to best support offshore wind clients. All staff are kept up-to-date with new developments or challenges ensuring they can provide advice to clients based on the latest approaches.
GoBe has strong relationships with Plymouth and Exeter Universities, and provides internship opportunities, either as part of university courses or for post-graduates looking for experience. Numerous GoBe staff were interns with the company when students and then were offered jobs after graduation. The Sofia contract has given graduates a practical insight, building on their theoretical knowledge of environmental matters with hands-on experience. It has got them thinking about the role they can play in facilitating the development of the amount of renewable energy needed to meet the UK's climate change targets, while working in an environmentally-responsible and compliant manner.
“The Sofia project will play a critically important role (along with the wider offshore wind sector) in helping the UK meet its 2030 carbon reduction targets. The technological challenges of developing a cost-effective project that lies 195km from the UK’s coastline are massive. GoBe is naturally delighted to be helping Sofia bring the project forward in an expedient manner that seeks to enhance the innovation needed to deliver this project, whilst ensuring environmental compliance at all stages. It is flagship projects like this that ensure our is business recognised as one of the UK’s leading providers in environmental planning and development support.”
- Peter Gaches, Technical Director, GoBe Consultants Ltd.