We are an independent science programme examining the effects of man-made structures on the ecology of the North Sea

The INSITE Programme was launched in 2014, with the aim of providing stakeholders with the independent scientific evidence-base needed to better understand the influence of man-made structures on the ecosystem of the North Sea.

The first INSITE Call for Proposals led to a Phase 1 research programme consisting of nine projects that concluded in 2017. In 2018, Phase 2 of INSITE was developed in partnership with NERC. NERC launched its INSITE Call for Proposals in 2019 and in April 2020 awarded around £5Million in grants to seven projects addressing the three Challenges in the NERC Announcement of Opportunity.

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INSITE Webinar Series focuses on six impact themes identified by stakeholders.

These are ‘Marine biodiversity’, ‘Environmental Restoration / Net Gain’, ‘Offshore wind deployment’, ‘Cumulative effects assessment’, ‘Commercial fishing’ and ‘Marine monitoring’.

The second event in INSITE Webinar Series will focus on ‘Environmental Restoration and Net Gain’ and will uncover how ecosystem services and functions potentially provided by marine species associated with man-made structures may contribute to environmental restoration, and offer opportunities for better understanding of ‘Net Gain’ at sea

Registration for Episode 02 Environmental Restoration is OPEN



Three scientific challenges underpin the ongoing programme of INSITE research, these are:


Changes in the ecosystem which occur due to the placement of man-made structures in the marine environment or as a consequence of their removal


Comparisons between the ecosystem structure and function on native and nonnative hard substrate


Variability in ecosystem structure and function on man-made structures against varying temporal scales


Manmade Structures

An estimated 30,000 km2 of the marine environment worldwide is host to man-made infrastructure and recent studies have shown that in addition to structural changes at these sites the abundance and diversity of sea-life is also modified.

With an extensive body of research already completed across North Sea sites, the programme of science led by INSITE, is continues to inform this relatively new area of interest.

  • 2 phases of research
  • 16 Projects
  • 7 PhDs
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INSITE research is led by researchers at some of the UK's leading universities and specialist marine science laboratories

Surrounded by a rich and diverse marine habitat, the UK research and academic community has long been recognised for its world leading contributions across all marine science disciplines.

xxCambridge University

Featured Projects

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Application of novel 3D imaging techniques to quantify biomass associated with North Sea artificial structures (NS3D).

Anthropogenic structures are deployed in marine environments to support industrial activities such as energy production. Sessile marine organisms rapidly colonise these offshore structures, which in turn attract mobile invertebrates, fish and top predators.

Principal Investigator: Dr Thomas Wilding

Organisation: Scottish Association for Marine Science

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EcoSTAR: Ecosystem level importance of Structures as Artificial Reefs

The North Sea is one of the most industrialised marine environments on the planet, with thousands of man-made structures (MMS) including oil and gas platforms, pipelines, subsea cable routes, and marine renewable energy installations. Much of the infrastructure relating to the oil and gas industry has been in place for decades and is coming to the end of its economic life. In contrast, the marine renewable energy industry is expanding with many windfarms planned for construction in the near future.

Principal Investigator: Dr Debbie Russell

Organisation: University of St Andrews

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