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


9 Monitoring and Implementation

9.1 Introduction

This chapter provides recommendations for further work at the national, regional and local level (Section 9.2) to fully assess the environmental effects of the proposed offshore wind developments in STW and meet environmental legislative requirements, thus supporting the development and implementation of the Plan.

In addition, this chapter describes the framework for monitoring the known environmental effects of the Plan (Section 9.5) and this will need to be discussed and agreed with a wide range of stakeholders. Section 19 of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires monitoring of the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the Plan, in order to identify, at an early stage, unforeseen adverse effects and to be able to undertake appropriate remedial action. The Act also recognises that additional monitoring requirements may place heavy demands on responsible authorities and that existing monitoring arrangements may be used, if appropriate, to avoid duplication of monitoring.

9.2 Recommendations for Further Work

Table 9-1 provides recommendations for further work at the strategic level to support the development of the Plan, to provide more accurate determination of the likely environmental effects of the Plan by filling data gaps and uncertainties and to help aid the identification of an appropriate mitigation strategy. In addition recommendations for additional studies are made at regional and project levels in order to continuously improve the understanding of potential impacts and mitigation measures, providing a cascade of information and focus to development.

The findings of these additional studies should be used to inform the final decision to consent any development and will be used to progress consultation and engagement with the SEA Consultation Authorities and key organisations.

Table 9-1: Recommendations for Further Work

SEA Topic

National level

Regional level

Project level 61

Climatic Factors

Carbon budget calculations are desirable

Not applicable

Ensure design retains flexibility to adapt to climate change.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Water resources

Not applicable

Not applicable

Hydrodynamic and water quality modelling, which considers waves and currents, and their potential to affect marine recreational users and designated conservation sites etc. The assessment should cover regions with potential for cumulative effects

Not applicable

Further consideration of the requirements of the Water Framework Directive guidance developed by SEPA is required in regions with potential for cumulative and in-combination effects to ensure that the Plan is not compromising any of the WFD objectives.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Geology, sediments and coastal processes

Not applicable

Not applicable

Sediment dynamic modelling and assessment to address potential near-field and far-field effects in regions with potential for cumulative effects. This should be linked to the hydrodynamics study.

Not applicable

Seabed mapping/classification in some areas should be undertaken to identify and avoid geologically important features. NB certain biodiversity issues are strongly linked to geology - e.g. Annex II reefs, maerl beds, herring spawning grounds

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Biodiversity, flora and fauna

Where significant impacts on Natura 2000 sites are identified, carry out a strategic HRA prior to adoption of the Plan, to determine whether there are likely to be adverse impacts on the integrity of the identified Natura 2000 sites and to identify appropriate avoidance or mitigation measures. The HRA is needed to determine where significant data gaps exist for biodiversity and recommend further studies.

Regional HRA as indicated in regions with potential for cumulative effects or multiple designated sites

To be addressed in more detail by EIA and Appropriate Assessment ( AA) as appropriate,

Information is required on the extent to which marine mammals and certain fish species respond to industrial marine noise, vibration and EMF, allowing frameworks to be developed to assess the population consequences of acoustic disturbance and the potential benefits of different mitigation techniques.

As indicated by sensitivity studies, further ecological survey work (including aerial and ship-based surveys) and research to clarify the offshore distribution and abundance of key species, including benthic ecology, marine mammals, fish and birds. The DECC (2009) Offshore Wind SEA also identified locations of areas of significance for shark, skate and ray populations and squid populations as a data gap.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Not applicable

Study to identify and assess likely scheduling and duration of key disturbance activities (e.g. piling) during construction, operation, and decommissioning. This study is needed to determine possible impacts on seasonal movements of various species.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

There is a need to better understand the broad-scale movement patterns of certain seabirds in order to assess both cumulative impacts and the extent to which activities at particular development sites may affect populations within SPAs, SACs or other protected sites.

Not applicable

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

As informed by HRA, sensitivity, distribution and scheduling studies, a cumulative impact assessment should include national cumulative impact assessment of the effects of offshore wind farms on marine mammals, birds, migratory and BAP fish. Key issues to include in the assessment:

  • disturbance to marine mammals
  • effects on seal breeding colonies
  • disturbance effects on foraging seabirds and their habitats
  • disturbance and barrier effects on migrating mammals, fish and birds - where appropriate addressing specific life cycle stages - e.g. salmon
  • disturbance effects on spawning and nursery grounds of BAP fish species (can be combined with assessment for cumulative effects on commercial fish species)

Many of these issues will have regional sensitivities.

Assessment can focus on existing methodology for wide-ranging species, such as King et al. (2009) 'Developing guidance on Ornithological Cumulative Impact Assessment for Offshore Wind Farm Developers. COWRIE'.

Regional cumulative impact assessments for biodiversity with particular focus on regionally important species or habitats as indicated by HRA - e.g. Moray Firth's resident bottlenose dolphins. East and west coast cumulative impact assessments already initiated but areas need to be broadened to cover all of STW.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Information is required on the potential nature conservation benefits that will occur as a result of the provision of additional habitat and associated navigation safety zones and changes to fishing practices caused by the presence of offshore structures. Consideration should be given to experience from the construction of other offshore structures in terms of improvements to biodiversity e.g. the construction of offshore reefs in the UK for coastal defence purposes have in some areas increased shrimp populations.

Regional studies seeking to optimise local benefits.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Landscape, seascape and visual amenity

Consideration should be given to the sense of scale, distances, differing landscape/seascape, existing focal points in the landscape, effects of skylining, remoteness, wildness and landform types as well as the value of landscapes/seascapes.

Carry out a landscape capacity study to inform and identify where offshore wind development would be in landscape/seascape terms.

Cumulative impact assessment needed for the impact of offshore wind development on seascape and visual amenity on a regional scale and in conjunction with any proposed onshore wind farm developments - see 'Strategic Planning for Wind Farms' guidance provided by SNH (2010)..

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate.

Population and Human Health

Further consideration of navigation/anchorage routes.

Identify and assess important popular coastal recreational destinations e.g. summits and elevated viewpoints (see landscape, seascape and visual amenity above) - see further work under Landscape, Seascape and Visual Amenity.

Undertake cumulative impact assessment to include assessment of all marine developments on sea-based recreational routes e.g. the displacement of recreational craft into commercial routes and consequent risk to safety.

Continue communicating and addressing issues through the Scottish Coastal Forum and/or the Marine Strategy Forum or sub-groups.

Continue communicating and addressing issues through the Scottish Coastal Forum and/or the Marine Strategy Forum or sub-groups.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate.

Cultural heritage

Establish working group with Historic Scotland and national heritage bodies of bordering countries to ensure offshore developments add to existing knowledge of cultural heritage.

Not applicable

Site investigations into possible submerged Palaeolithic landscapes


Material Assets

Not applicable

Requirement for a comprehensive navigation/traffic assessment, if not already being carried out by developers, to understand safety hazards associated with potential interaction of offshore wind development with the shipping industry. The objective would be to fully understand the potential impacts with respect to safety and navigation, rights of innocent passage, commercial and carbon implications etc with full cognisance of the potential benefits that a strong wind industry can bring, in order that robust and equitable mitigation measures may be developed. It is likely that this study may be progressed on a regional basis (e.g. Firth of Forth) and scoping will help identify those priorities. The development of a steering group may be required to progress this action.

To be addressed in more detail by EIA as appropriate

Overarching needs - data management.

As more detailed information on particular SEA receptors becomes available over the life-time of the Plan, and the offshore wind industry develops, further research and data will be collected on the offshore environment, which will help to inform and refine the potential impacts associated with the developments. This information will be used to further the understanding of impacts associated with wind energy and the development of industry best practice and standards. Not only would this better safeguard Scotland's resources, it sets the stage for Scotland to play a leading role in sustainable management of an offshore renewable industry.

In order to use this data appropriately, there is a need to build the existing database, ensuring that data is collected in a consistent and compatible manner at all sites, and providing an overarching dataset that is stored appropriately and is accessible. In order to promote the development of industry best practice and subject to commercial confidentiality all developers should be required to share and make publically available all information collected or collated on the existing environment and potential receptors in their area within 12 months of its collection.

The development of protocols for data management will bring substantial benefits and are to be developed in advance of the main phase of data collection. Marine Spatial Planning is not currently developed in Scotland but will be functional in the future. These data will clearly inform Marine Spatial Planning. Given the role of the Scottish Government in Marine Spatial Planning it would be reasonable to expect that the data collection protocols and subsequent management of data is carried out by Marine Scotland.

Co-ordination of regional monitoring programmes by developers in areas with potential for cumulative impacts - e.g. Solway Firth, west coast, Firth of Forth.

Co-ordination of regional monitoring programmes by developers in areas with potential for cumulative impacts

Commitment to make data available.

Co-ordination with other users of STW

In anticipation of Marine Spatial Planning, development of a strategic framework to co-ordinate activity between marine users will be carried out to ensure that:

the seabed is not potentially sterilised by the proposed Plan;

conflicts are resolved with activities and operations of other marine users,

opportunities for optimising use of the seabed within the STW is sought; and

the framework would need to investigate the temporal and spatial flexibility of other marine users and industrial marine sectors.

Continued communications (consultation and participation) will be carried out with the SEA consultation authorities ( SEPA, SNH and Historic Scotland), regulators, key organisations, developers (including those that have been awarded exclusivity leases for areas inside STW) and the public. The principles and objectives of a communication strategy should be clearly set out and agreed between the organisations concerned.

Not applicable

Not applicable

9.3 Opportunities

There are various opportunities for positive effects to be derived from offshore wind development that have been identified in the DECC (2009) Offshore Wind SEA. These could enhance the environmental performance of the Plan and include:

  • artificial reef creation/creation of refugia (depending on government policy, the context and other related actions such as possible exclusion of fishing for specified time periods).
  • adoption of wind farm sites as protected areas for benefit of marine management or maintenance or recovery of marine biodiversity;
  • shared operation and maintenance activity;
  • shared infrastructure (e.g. cabling and onshore facilities);
  • utilisation of co-located sites (promoting/encouraging use of sites previously affected by other activities);
  • co-generation of projects (e. g. wind, wave, gas);
  • site re-use;
  • tourism benefits;
  • co-ordination of opportunities through the advent of marine planning e.g. robust and efficient licensing facilitated by Marine Scotland; and
  • siting of monitoring equipment for environmental research.

Developers will be able to take advantage of some of these opportunities, for example by sharing facilities such as cables. Others will require a variety of stakeholders, for example, to maximise the tourist potential of offshore wind energy development. Others are likely to require a lead government role.

9.4 Recommendations for Implementation of the Draft Plan

9.4.1 Short Term Plan

Conclusions and Recommendations from the SEA to the Draft Plan on the short term options:

It is anticipated that all 10 short term options could be progressed between 2010 and 2020, as part of the Plan, if the identified mitigation is implemented to avoid, minimise and offset significant environmental impacts.

All options would have significant benefits in terms of meeting Scotland's targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing renewable energy capacity. The Argyll Array short term option would provide the greatest area for wind generation out of all of the short term options and would also be sited in the west of Scotland, where wind speeds are high.

The residual significant impacts are unlikely to exclude offshore wind development from the ten sites identified in the draft Plan.

All short term options (with the exception of Kintyre) have the potential for cumulative and in-combination effects on the environment, particularly with respect to biodiversity, visual receptors along the coastline, high sensitivity seascapes/landscapes, sediment movement/coastal processes and other marine users (e.g. fishing vessels and recreational users). These effects may be exacerbated by implementation of the medium term Plan.

Those receptors that will be most affected by the short term options are:

- Local population/communities including marine users

- Biodiversity, flora and fauna - particularly marine mammals, benthic ecology, BAP habitats and species, migratory fish and birds; and

- Medium to high sensitivity landscape/seascape character, designated landscapes and visual receptors within 8km of proposed options.

More data at regional and local level will be needed to effectively assess the topics of Geology, Sediments and Coastal Processes, Water Resources and Population and Human Health (recreation impacts).

There are important and fundamental gaps in our understanding of some of the impacts, especially cumulative and in-combination impacts. Recommendations for additional studies have been made (Table 9-1). Of these recommendations, those relating to biodiversity, landscape/seascape and shipping/navigation are likely to be the most urgent.

Recommendations for mitigation and monitoring have been put forward and should be applied appropriately.

There is a need to co-ordinate further studies, monitoring, research and mitigation etc towards the development of best practice for the offshore wind industries.

Following implementation of additional studies and the recommendations in the SEA, the short term options will be revisited and updated through the future review of the SEA (i.e. every two years), which will inform any revisions to the Plan.

9.4.2 Medium Term Plan

Recommendations from the SEA to the Draft Plan on the medium term options:

Of the 30 medium term options considered, 25 medium term options could be considered further for implementation between 2020 and 2030. Two medium term options were excluded from the draft Plan on environmental grounds, given the sensitivity of the environment, as follows

  • NW1 - potential for major adverse impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of St Kilda World Heritage Site, which lies within 7km of the option
  • NW3 - potential major adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of St Kilda World Heritage Site in terms of its inter-relationship with the Western Isles.

Three further medium term options have been excluded from the medium term Plan due to the presence of mine fields and a munitions site.

It is anticipated that most of the significant adverse environmental effects resulting from implementation of medium term options can be avoided or reduced through mitigation. Where this is not possible, further work at the strategic, regional or project level has been identified to fully understand the nature of the impact.

Comments received after the 12 week consultation period on the Environmental Report ( ER) may help to identify further constraints and opportunities associated with the medium term options, which will inform the finalisation of the Plan.

As with the short term options, there is potential for significant cumulative and in-combination impacts on environmental receptors. The Plan should ensure that further studies, research and co-ordination recommended in the short term options are used to best effect in subsequent revisions of the Plan and SEA, and in developing industry best practice.

Following implementation of additional studies and the recommendations in the SEA, the medium term options will also be revisited and updated through the future review of the SEA (i.e. every two years), which will inform any revisions to the Plan.

9.4.3 Long Term Plan

Recommendations from the SEA to the Draft Plan on the long term options:

The SEA has not identified any firm recommendations to the draft Plan for long term options beyond learning from those made for the short and medium term plans.

9.5 Monitoring of the Plan

Monitoring of the Plan is essential to ensure that offshore wind development in STW is carried out in a sustainable manner.

Four principal types of monitoring (activity monitoring, emissions monitoring, effects monitoring and SEA objectives monitoring) were identified by DECC (2009) during the development of the UK Offshore Energy SEA and are relevant for consideration herein; as follows:

  • activity monitoring - this is an important control on development at a national scale and will be monitored by existing mechanisms, such as through The Crown Estate sea bed leasing and licences. This is not likely to be relevant at the strategy level;
  • emissions monitoring - this involves monitoring of solid, liquid and atmospheric emissions, discharges and wastes required by environmental permits and legislation (e.g. through the FEPA licensing regime) but is not likely to be of relevance at a strategic scale for offshore wind. However, carbon monitoring per unit power (kw/hr) generated will play an important role in tracking commitments to climate change-related emissions control;
  • effects monitoring - there are on-going programmes for monitoring the environmental effects of offshore wind development and operation. Some areas are however not well understood or are developing and further monitoring or research, such as on the effects of cumulative underwater noise from offshore wind farms on the behaviour/migratory routes of fish and mammals, is required. These uncertain areas require development of new monitoring programmes or adaption and extension of existing ones (see Table 9-1); and
  • SEA objectives monitoring - the SEA objectives will be monitored by Marine Scotland to track the performance of the SEA over time. Table 9-2 presents the SEA monitoring framework for the Plan, including environmental indicators that could be used to monitor the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the Plan. Where possible an indication of the geographic coverage and frequency of monitoring is provided. The framework will use the SEA indicators to inform any subsequent reviews of the Plan, allow updates and monitor the accuracy of impact predictions made in the SEA. The monitoring framework also discusses how project level monitoring by relevant organisations can contribute to a national level understanding and monitoring strategy. The final monitoring framework, following consultation, will allocate responsibilities to relevant organisations.

Table 9-2: Proposed SEA Monitoring Framework

SEA Receptors

SEA Objectives

SEA Indicators

Significant Environmental Effects

Summary of Proposed Monitoring

Data Sources providing contextual information

Time scale and responsibility

Climatic Factors

To incorporate measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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.

The development of increased power generation by offshore wind would significantly benefit this SEA objective.

Measure of proportion of Scottish and UK power and renewables target generated by offshore wind development in STW. (National coverage, annual frequency)

Monitor generating capacity of offshore wind development constructed under the Plan to review its contribution to greenhouse gas reduction and minimising Scotland's 'carbon footprint'. (National coverage, annual frequency)

Scottish Carbon statistics e.g. www.Scotlandsfootprint.org

Frequency as per existing data collection and publication

For life of plan, Marine Scotland

Water Resources

Protect surface and aquifer water quality within STW.

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

The environmental effects on water resources are assessed as 'uncertain'; this is due to the fact that impacts would relate closely to specific scheme configurations.

No strategic monitoring required.

Recommendation for further study: Requirement for modelling of water quality and hydrodynamics - see Table 9.1. (Regional/local coverage. Likely one-off study with iterations for various development scenarios)

Existing and future SEPA and developers' water quality monitoring data

Marine Scotland

Geology, Sediments and Coastal Processes

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

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

Physical damage or exclusion to designated geological conservation site.

The environmental effects of wind development on geology, sediments and coastal processes are assessed as 'uncertain', this is due to the fact that impacts would relate closely to specific scheme configurations.

No strategic monitoring required.

Recommendation for further study: seabed mapping/classification and sediment dynamics modelling in STW - see Table 9-1.

Schemes should be designed to mitigate any potential effects through design and configuration. (Regional/local coverage. Likely one-off study with iterations for various development scenarios)

Condition of geological SSSIs ( SNH)

Integrated Coastal Zone Management plans/ future Shoreline Management Plans

Coastal protection studies

Sediment flux research projects


Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Protect and if appropriate enhance biodiversity, fauna and flora.

Presence of conservation sites within the 'footprint' of the options and likelihood of potentially adverse impacts on conservation site.

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

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

The environmental effects of wind development on Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna are variable depending on impact receptor.

Potentially key effects include: bird strike - collision risk; disturbance to movement, feeding etc of birds and marine mammals, e.g. due to construction noise, barrier effects, vessel traffic; damage to or loss of marine habitat and benthic ecology; disturbance to fish spawning or nursery areas; and disturbance to diadromous fish

No strategic monitoring required at this stage but likely to be needed following HRA.

Recommendation for further study: There is a requirement for strategic Appropriate Assessment of the Plan, and further study and research is required at the strategic and regional levels - see Table 9-1. (Sensitivity studies: regional/localised and one-off. Distribution studies: national/regional with 3-5 year frequency)

Schemes should be designed to mitigate potential effects through design and configuration to the satisfaction of planning requirements.

Data sources may include SNH, Environmental Clerk of Works, Marine mammal observers, NGOs

Monitoring frequency will vary in relation to activity and specific receptor, but may range for example from 'during all works' to annual reporting

Marine Scotland/ SNH, others TBA

Landscape, Seascape and Visual Amenity

Protect and conserve landscape and seascape character/visual amenity within Scottish Territorial Waters.

Likely adverse effect on areas of high natural heritage sensitivity.

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

Distance of the wind farm from the coastline.

The environmental effects of wind development on Landscape, Seascape and Visual Amenity range from 'neutral' to 'moderate to major adverse' depending on the site/area assessed.

Monitor any future changes to national level Landscape/Seascape Character Assessments and updates to natural heritage features undertaken by SNH. (National, 3-5 year frequency)

During the detailed design of a scheme, detailed landscape/seascape impact assessments and visual assessments should be undertaken. This will provide important inputs to national monitoring.

Recommendation for further study: requirement to carry out strategic cumulative landscape/seascape and visual impact assessments of the Plan - see Table 9-1. (Initial national study with regional updates 3-5 year frequency)

Siting and Designing wind farms in the Landscape ( SNH 2010)

Life of The Plan, SNH

Marine Scotland

Population and Human Health

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

Disruption to key recreational areas for boating.

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

The environmental effects of wind development on recreation range from 'neutral' to 'major adverse depending on the site/area assessed.

Monitor significant changes arising from future coastal and marine recreation surveys carried out by both SNH and other key stakeholders, such as the RYA and ensure that these are reflected in discussed with key stakeholders and reflected in revisions to the Plan.

Recommendation for further study: see Table 9-1. (Initial national study with regional updates 3-5 year frequency)

Existing and future SNH/ RYA Recreational surveys/research

Life of the Plan, SNH/ RYA and Marine Scotland

Cultural Heritage

Protect and, where appropriate, enhance the historic environment and cultural heritage in Scottish Territorial Waters.

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

The environmental effects of wind development on Cultural Heritage are considered to be localised and the impacts range from 'neutral' to 'major adverse' depending on the site/ area assessed.

No strategic monitoring required.

However, during the detailed design of a scheme detailed archaeological and cultural heritage impact assessments will be undertaken and monitoring of localised effects will be carried out.

Recommendation for further study: see Table 9-1. (National coverage, ongoing dialogue)

MoD data for military protected sites, wrecks and aircraft crash sites


Canmore database

Historic Scotland data on listed buildings, scheduled monuments etc

Pre-construction planning phase - developers to undertake appropriate impact assessment, competent authorities to determine planning applications.

Material Assets (infrastructure and natural resources)

To avoid significant conflicts with navigation and shipping

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

The environmental effects of wind development on Material Assets are assessed as 'neutral', 'uncertain' 'minor negative' or moderate to major negative' depending on the site/ area assessed.

Liaison with OWIG etc to obtain specific monitoring data on various environmental receptors. (National coverage, ongoing dialogue)

Liaison with MCA and shipping industry to assess the progress of mitigation measures. (National coverage, ongoing dialogue)

During the detailed design of a scheme detailed assessments of potential impacts on local and strategic material assets should be undertaken. (National coverage, ongoing dialogue)

Recommendation for further study: see Table 9-1.

Pre-construction planning phase - developers to undertake appropriate impact assessment, competent authorities to determine planning applications.

As described in Table 9-2, upon adoption of the Plan, some environmental elements will be more appropriately monitored through lower level plans, programmes and strategy frameworks or at project level.

It is recommended that further discussions are held between Marine Scotland, the Consultation Authorities and key stakeholders to discuss potential indicators and data availability, for monitoring significant environmental effects. This should also consider mechanisms for better co-ordination of existing monitoring mechanisms.

Details of the final monitoring framework will be presented in the Post-Adoption SEA Statement, following discussions and agreement with the Consultation Authorities, and other key stakeholders.