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Law firm Harper Macleod watches out for dolphins

Harper Macleod's Energy & Natural Resources group has had a fascinating preview of the results of a unique partnership between the law firm and scientists from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

As part of its commitment to innovation and supporting research in the renewable energy industry in Scotland, Harper Macleod has made a generous donation and has part-sponsored a PhD studentship at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI near Oban for the past two years.

Scotland's extensive potential for renewable energy developments along its coast is likely to see more wind and tidal turbines built in the near future.

The SAMS UHI research saw marine mammal scientist Nienke van Geel investigate bottlenose dolphin movement patterns on the west coast of Scotland to increase understanding of their distribution and population structure with a view to minimising the impact of marine energy construction work.

Harper Macleod recently added new Partner Steven Brown, an expert in emerging wave and tidal power technologies, to the team recently named Energy Team of the Year 2013.

With offshore renewables increasingly important, supporting this type of research increases the firm's already broad understanding of the sector, and the wide range of factors that have to be taken into account by our clients in this field.

The current status of the research, due to be finished early next year, was presented to the firm by PhD student Nienke at a special seminar on 4 June.

Harper Macleod head of Energy and Natural Resources, David Bone, said: "The natural landscape and climate of Scotland has given us a fantastic opportunity to generate income for the nation and support local employment. However, we must be careful not to squander this gift and use it to its best potential to ensure prosperity for future generations whilst protecting our environment. We're pleased to have supported research which could potentially encourage sustainable renewable energy worldwide."

Harper Macleod, a leading player in the renewable energy industry, was the first Scottish law firm to philanthropically support this type of research, which links academic study back into industry.

Nuala Boyle, Head of Development at the university, said: "This type of philanthropic support is extremely important and beneficial to both the company and the university – investing in the next generation of researchers is vital for the success of the institution and the region.

The firm's donation has also helped to part sponsor a second, life sciences related PhD studentship at North Highland College UHI's Environmental Research Institute (ERI) in Thurso.