Marine Scotland is working with Argyll & Bute Council to promote developer community engagement to examine and better understand any potential onshore implications associated with the proposed Argyll Array offshore wind farm (off Tiree). This approach involves the participation of key partner organisations - Argyll & Bute Council, The Crown Estate, SG Planning Team, Tiree Community Trust, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Power Renewables (the developer).
Following a tendering exercise, specialist Environmental Consultants Ironside Farrar have been appointed to conduct a study, with the aim of understanding the practical scenarios for onshore development associated with the Argyll Array and develop proposals which would make the development acceptable to both the community and developer.
Engagement with the community and key stakeholders will be at the heart of the process, with consultation planned throughout the study period.
Seabed Mapping and Sediment Profiling
Along with other organisations, Marine Scotland is also undertaking seabed mapping and sediment profiling of the Scottish Marine Area. Through a signed Memorandum of Understanding, Marine Scotland will work with the Northern Lighthouse Board to collect the bathymetric data in collaboration with the Maritime Coastguard Agency.
In addition, as part of Marine Scotland's programme of work related to the development of offshore wind, wave and tidal activities, Scottish Renewables has identified a need for mapping and profiling to be prioritised in areas of proposed development. The resultant mapping and profiling information will assist developers and regulators in assessing the characteristics and ecological value of the sea bed in relation to renewable energy development of wave and tidal resources.
Marine Scotland Interactive (MSI)
At the heart of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 are measures to address marine planning, licensing, offshore renewable energy, conservation and enforcement. Marine planning will be integral to establishing a statutory process to manage, through a strategic framework, the sustainable development of Scotland’s marine resources and environments. The development of marine plans will provide a more transparent decision making process, reducing uncertainty for marine developers and encourage greater stakeholder engagement.
Marine Scotland Science (MSS) contributes to the planning of the marine energy industries by providing regional datasets from strategically important areas around Scotland. The aim of the survey work is to provide clear guidance for marine planners and the renewable industry in supporting site identification. It also helps to focus Research & Development effort in order to accommodate the dominant seabed conditions found from priority areas identified by marine planning work and prioritised by developers through Scottish Renewables. Benthic (seabed) conservation interests have also been addressed that may impede or preclude the development of the selected areas under current legislation.
Marine Scotland Interactive (MSi) is a web-based resource providing access to complex spatial data, such as map-based information, geodatabases, video footage and digital stills held by MSS. Data is stored as themes and related datasets to support key areas of the Marine Scotland Act (2009). The themes address information related to offshore renewables, marine spatial planning and marine licensing. Datasets collate information into natural groups such as video-footage and bathymetry data. All data on the MSI web pages can be downloaded for free in a number of formats (.kmz, .lpk, .sd .gdb and .csv) that can be viewed using free and intuitive software available on the internet such as Google Earth and ESRI Arc Desktop Explorer, coupled to social networking sites such as YouTube and Picasa. The same file formats can also be viewed using industry standard software.
The survey work hosted on MSI comprises almost 600 km2 of sea bed bathymetry data, over 400 seabed TV tows and several thousand digital still images. Map based datasets available include bathymetry layers and derived seabed information layers such as gradient, rugosity, gradient direction and shaded relief. Combinations of map based layers have been captured in geodatabases that can be queried according to parameters (depth, seabed gradient and distance offshore) that would influence site location development based on the requirements of the renewables devices and the equipment for their deployment. Map-based summaries of reports based on the seabed video footage and digital stills are available providing information on the seabed type, biota and biotype for each TV tow.