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Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters: Volume 1: Environmental Report

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6 SEA Objectives

6.1 Introduction

A series of SEA objectives were developed, based on an understanding of relevant baseline conditions and known key strategic issues relating to the study area. These were subsequently refined with reference to the goals, objectives and other policies, including the SEA objectives consulted on by DECC as part of the Offshore Energy SEA (2009), and through stakeholder workshops on this SEA in December 2009 and January 2010. Consideration of other PPSs and legislation, as described in Chapter 3, was also undertaken.

Refinements to the SEA objectives were necessary as the strategy developed, as it was deemed that some objectives were more applicable at a project or regional level and others could not be used as appraisal criteria due to the lack of baseline indicator data. These changes were discussed with key stakeholders. The objectives draw heavily on the DECCSEA objectives, providing some continuity between SEAs.

Each of the SEA objectives, where appropriate, was divided into more specific sub-objectives relating to each topic. For each objective, and associated sub-objective(s), a framework of associated indicators was established; thus enabling the use of these objectives as appraisal criteria for the option assessment process and the SEA evaluation of the plan. Figure 6-1 shows the linkage between objectives and indicators.

Figure 6-1: Linkages between objectives and indicators

Figure 6-1: Linkages between objectives and indicators

During this process, the performance of each alternative option was measured, for each sub-objective relative to baseline conditions (defined in terms of each of the specified indicators) and a summary description provided.

The Consultation Authorities agreed to the above approach and provided input to the development of objectives. The objectives will also be used as a benchmark during post-implementation monitoring of the strategy.

6.2 SEA Objectives

The eight SEA objectives, sub-objectives and indicators are presented in Table 6-1. The objectives address issues relating to all of the SEA topics required for consideration under the SEA Directive, except where particular topics have been identified as not relevant to the strategy through the scoping process. Specific consideration of air quality impacts was not considered relevant to the plan due to the specific and localised nature of any potential impacts (e.g. routine emissions during construction and operations from power generation, production facilities and vessels).

Table 6-1: SEA objectives, sub-objectives and indicators

SEA Receptors

SEA Objectives

SEA Sub-Objectives

Indicators

Climatic Factors

To incorporate measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

To efficiently generate clean energy, working towards Scotland's energy targets.

Provision of a renewable source of energy.

Positive contributions to reducing Scotland's 'carbon footprint'.

Extent to which climate change predictions raise the risk to infrastructure over the long term.

Water Resources

To protect surface and aquifer water quality within STW.

To maintain chemical, biological and physical water quality of surface and ground waters.

Changes to surface and groundwater quality with respect to chemistry, biology or physical characteristics - e.g. EU Directives (shellfisheries, bathing waters, WFD, MSFD etc).

Geology, Sediments and Coastal Processes

To protect the geology, seabed sediments and sedimentary processes within STW.

To protect the large scale quality of the seabed and sediments and avoid large scale changes to seabed morphology and sediment transport

.

Likelihood of large scale changes in geochemistry, bathymetry, sediment grain size distribution and sediment transport budgets.

To avoid significant damage to designated geological sites.

Significant physical damage or no access to designated geological conservation site.

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

To protect and if appropriate enhance biodiversity, fauna and flora.

To avoid significant impacts to international and nationally designated conservation sites including draft, possible, candidate and designated Natura 2000 sites.

Presence of conservation site within the 'footprint' of the options - e.g. - SPA, Ramsar, SAC, SSSI (including possible, draft and candidate sites) and likelihood of potential adverse impacts on conservation site.

Note the footprint is determined by the range of the potential impact (e.g.extent of noise envelope, sediment plume size).

To avoid significant impact to, or disturbance of European Protected Species ( EPS).

Presence of EPS within 'footprint' of the options and likelihood of potential adverse impact on protected species.

Note the footprint is determined by the range of the potential impact (e.g. extent of noise envelope, sediment plume size).

Contribute to conservation of the wildlife and wildlife habitats of Scotland.

For selected 'valued ecosystem components' no significant loss of diversity, distribution or population. Promotion of conservation where possible and appropriate. Valued ecosystem components comprise:

- Important Bird Areas ( IBAs) - these support significant numbers of 1 or more globally threatened species, are an effective way of identifying conservation priorities and are key sites for conservation; and

- Spawning ground for Biodiversity Action Plan ( BAP) fish species (e.g. plaice & herring).

Landscape, Seascape and Visual Amenity

To protect and conserve landscape and seascape character/visual amenity within STW.

To protect the diversity and local distinctiveness of high sensitivity landscapes/seascape

Likely adverse effect on areas of high natural heritage sensitivity.

To avoid significantly affecting the special qualities of internationally and nationally designated landscape and historic areas.

Proximity to World Heritage Sites, National Scenic Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coasts

- within 8km of designated landscape (major adverse);

- 8 - 13km of designated landscape (moderate adverse impact); and

- 13 - 35km of designated landscape (minor adverse).

To maintain visual amenity from the coast.

Distance of the wind farm from the coastline.

The important zones for visual influence from a wind farm are considered:

- 0 - 8km (high impact);

- 8 -13km (moderate impact);

- 13 - 35km (low impact); and

- >35km (not significant).

Population and Human Health

To avoid negative effects on human health and population and seek opportunities for enhancement.

To avoid significantly affecting recreational users of the sea.

Disruption to key recreational areas for boating:

- RYA cruising/recreational. Routes: heavy, medium or light use, and

- RYA sailing areas: general sailing areas or racing areas.

Disruption to areas of 'greatest' importance for recreation (as identified in 'A Review of Marine & Coastal Recreation' SNH 2007).

Cultural Heritage

To protect and, where appropriate, enhance the historic environment and cultural heritage in STW.

To avoid damage to known archaeological heritage sites.

Likely impact on designated site or features (and setting), military remains and/or designated wreck attributable to wind energy development.

Material Assets

To avoid significant conflicts with navigation and shipping

To maintain existing standard of safety of navigation, anchorage and shipping.

Likely interference with a defined navigation routes and/or associated anchorage area potentially resulting in increased collision risk and restrictions on pollution prevention methods.