The Offshore Renewables Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries (ORPAD) has been given a boost by The Crown Estate after four years of operation.
ORPAD has proved successful with nearly 200 reports raised since 2010.  Building on this foundation The Crown Estate, which actively supports responsible development, has launched a new Protocol document. Wessex Archaeology and The Crown Estate are also putting energy into promoting the updated Protocol by raising understanding of it through awareness training. This begins with a launch event to members of Renewable UK at The Crown Estate’s New Burlington Place offices on September 29th, and is an example of how the Protocol is being promoted to the industry.
The Protocol is funded by The Crown Estate on behalf of all wind farm developers in the UK and protects archaeological discoveries made during work offshore and where cables cross the inter-tidal zone onto the land. Unlike on land, where archaeological remains can be fully identified, investigated and potentially recorded and removed before developers arrive on site, the offshore story is more complicated. The logistical difficulties of working at sea mean that despite record searches, geophysical surveys and deploying divers or sub-surface vehicles to areas within a development area, there is still high potential for discrete finds and unknown or deeply buried sites to be revealed during construction.
The Protocol helps protect these discoveries by establishing a framework through which any unexpected archaeological remains, which to date have ranged from anchors and aircraft to peat deposits, shipwrecks and even a scrubbing brush, can be rapidly investigated before any damage is done to a potential site.
Wessex Archaeology’s Coastal & Marine team drafted the Protocol and implement it on behalf of The Crown Estate, and is actively supporting the launch.