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Background Information

The Scottish Government is firmly committed to the development of a successful and sustainable offshore renewable energy industry in Scotland and has a stated target of meeting 100% of Scottish demand for electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Indeed Scotland is well placed to take a global lead in the exploitation of renewable energy sources at sea with a massive marine renewables potential of an estimated 25% of Europe’s tidal resource, 25% of its offshore wind resource and 10% of its wave potential

The Scottish Government also recognises that there is a range of issues which have to be addressed to allow the establishment of any new sector. To address the various issues and challenges of developing marine renewables, a number of projects have been started to provide solutions and support to partner organisations and industry. These include:

  • The development of Sectoral Marine Plans, which will be adopted into the statutory National and Regional Marine Plans
  • The delivery of a Marine Planning System and introduce best practice through efficiencies in licensing and consenting processes
  • Streamlining marine licensing


To help the development of marine renewables in Scotland, Marine Scotland established a partnership group, the Marine Energy Spatial Planning Group (MESPG), with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the enterprise network (including Scottish Enterprise and  Highlands and Islands Enterprise), Scottish Renewables, the Crown Estate Commissioners (CEC) and connected Scottish Government colleagues in December 2008.

The Group worked on addressing the following:

  1. Sectoral Marine Planning
  2. Efficient Licensing
  3. Addressing Environmental Impact Unknowns
  4. Regional Initiative

For Sectoral Marine Planning, the Group established a project to produce an Offshore Wind Sectoral Marine Plan using Strategic Environmental Assessment, Socio-Economic Assessment, Strategic Habitat Regulation Appraisal and Statutory Consultation Analysis.

Efficient Licensing is being delivered through four main initiatives:

  • The establishment of a one-stop-shop covering marine licensing
  • The production of a Licensing Manual, initially covering marine renewables but under review to cover offshore wind
  • Development of Licensing Policy Guidance, initially covering Survey, Deploy and Monitor but being expanded to cover other issues including the Rochdale Envelope, etc.
  • SNH Monitoring Protocol: a draft document to advise developers on pre-development survey and post-development monitoring techniques

For Addressing Environmental Impact Unknowns, a research sub-group was set up to examine issues related to marine renewables devices potential effects on the marine ecosystem. (This sub-group continues to operate and manage a range of projects.)

And finally, Regional Initiatives included the development of a Marine Spatial Plan Framework and Regional Locational Guidance, which is currently being piloted for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.

The Spatial Planning process has three stages:

  • Stage 1 – identifying the gaps : for the pilot area, reports have been produced
  • Stage 2 -  collecting better regional data and evaluating inshore fishing activity and shipping activity: this is on going for the pilot area
  • Stage 3 – preparation of the final Marine Spatial Plan

Another reason for developing Regional Locational Guidance is to encourage further marine renewable development around Scotland, including providing guidance for potential Saltire Prize applicants. Regional Locational Guidance also has a role in Marine Licensing and is now used to identify Sectoral Marine Plan options.

Although work on these themes continues and a number of outputs/models have been developed and continue to be refined, the MESPG was closed down after 12 months.