1.1.1 The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring secure, reliable and affordable energy supplies, within the context of long-term decarbonisation of energy generation. The continued growth of the renewable energy sector in Scotland is an essential feature of the future clean energy system and a potential key driver of economic growth. As a nation with an abundance of renewable energy resources, opportunities exist not only to meet domestic needs, but also to export low carbon energy to the rest of UK and Europe.
1.1.2 To date, Scotland has seen a significant amount of offshore wind energy activity, with 14 offshore wind farms (including two floating wind farms) having received consent, six of which are currently operational, equating to a total generating capacity of just over 5 Gigawatts (GW). Our first Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy (Blue Seas Green Energy) ("the 2011 Plan") was adopted in 2011, with draft wind, wave and tidal plans subsequently produced in 2013.
1.1.3 Recent technological, policy, regulatory and market developments, such as the commitments outlined in the UK Offshore Wind Sector Deal, the development of new technologies suitable for deployment in deeper water and the aspirations established in recent climate change legislation have presented the opportunity for Scottish Ministers' to undertake a new strategic planning process.
1.1.4 In November 2017, Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) ("(CES)(IM)") announced its intention to run a further seabed leasing round for commercial scale offshore wind energy projects in Scottish Waters. To inform the spatial development of this leasing round, Marine Scotland, as planning authority for Scotland's seas, is required to undertake a planning exercise in accordance with relevant UK, European Union (EU) and Scottish legislation. This planning process will ensure that the spatial strategy is in place to support the forthcoming Crown Estate Scotland (CES) 'ScotWind' leasing round and enable the continued successful development of commercial-scale offshore wind. The planning process for the draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy ("the draft Plan") commenced in early 2018, following the process outlined in Figure 1, and builds upon the previous planning exercises (undertaken in 2011 and 2013). Consultation on the draft Plan took place between December 2019 to March 2020 and the outputs of this consultation exercises are outlined in this report.
1.1.5 The final Plan will provide the spatial framework for the first cycle of seabed leasing by Crown Estate Scotland ("CES"), which launched in June 2020
1.2.1 In June 2018, the Scottish Government consulted on a number of Areas of Search as part of the scoping stage of this planning process. The consultation ran for a period of five weeks from 13 June 2018 to the 18 July 2018
1.2.2 Following completion of the scoping consultation, Marine Scotland undertook extensive post-scoping engagement with stakeholders to further refine these Areas of Search. This led to the identification of Revised Areas of Search in early 2019, which took into account consultation feedback, new/additional datasets and commercial considerations outlined by renewable energy developers and membership organisations, which were then further refined to identify draft Plan Options ("DPOs"). The DPOs emerged through an examination of spatial data considerations in addition to advice and other related information provided by members of the Offshore Wind Strategic Environmental Assessment and Social and Economic Impact Assessment Steering Groups, as well as wider stakeholder consultation. A summary of the scoping and post-scoping consultation can be found in the Consultation Analysis Report published in December 2019. The DPOs consulted upon are shown in Figure 2, below.
1.2.3 The draft Plan was published on 18 December 2019 and the consultation ran until 25 March 2020, a total of 14 weeks.
1.2.4 The draft Plan is accompanied by seven supporting documents;
- Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Report (SEA);
- Strategic Habitat Regulations Appraisal: Screening and Appropriate Assessment Information Report (HRA report);
- Social and Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA);
- Partial Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA);
- Partial Islands Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA);
- Draft Regional Locational Guidance (RLG); and
- Sustainability Appraisal (SA).
1.2.5 The consultation contained 14 questions, seven on the draft Plan and a further seven questions on the suitability of the supporting assessment documents. The consultation questions are listed in Appendix A.
1.2.6 The draft Plan and supporting documents were made available on the Scottish Government website and supported by a series of 17 public events around Scotland during February and March 2020, with a further stakeholder event in London in March 2020. Further details regarding these events and the feedback received is provided at Section 5 and in Annex B of this report.
1.2.7 In addition, information regarding the draft Plan was presented and disseminated at a number of relevant meetings and conferences, including the Scottish Renewables' Offshore Wind Conference, Exhibition & Dinner (28 and 29 January 2020) and Regional Inshore Fisheries meetings (14 and 24 January 2020).
1.2.8 Additionally, engagement was undertaken with the following bodies and organisations:
- Scottish Natural Heritage;
- Royal Society for Protection of Birds (Scotland);
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee;
- Scottish Fishermen's Federation and Scottish White Fish Producers Association;
- Scottish Renewables;
- Argyll and Bute Council
- Comhairle nan Eilean Siar;
- Royal Yachting Association (Scotland); and
- Various renewable developers.
1.3 Analysis Method and Reporting
1.3.1 Responses were submitted via Citizen Space or via information submitted directly to Marine Scotland. Most responses were submitted electronically (i.e. submitted via Citizen Space or email) rather than by hard copy.
1.3.3 The responses to the consultation question(s) in each document were logged in a customised database which enabled analysis to be undertaken by key themes, geographic scope (i.e. national and/or regional) and respondent type.
1.3.4 Unique responses (text) were categorised as 'standard' responses.
1.3.5 Where respondents submitted the same text or an individual responded multiple times, this was categorised as a 'non-standard' response.
1.3.6 Responses from organisations were assigned to sub-groups (organisation 'type') (Table 1). This enabled analysis of the types of organisations that had responded and whether there were differences or commonalities across the different types of organisations that had responded and also broken down into sectors to allow sectoral analysis.
1.3.7 Reponses to each question(s) in each consultation document were examined and key themes and geographic scope were identified.
1.3.8 The key themes were looked at in relation to individuals and organisation groupings to ascertain whether any particular theme was specific to one particular group or whether it appeared in responses across groups.
1.3.9 Chapters two to nine document the substance of the analysis of the formal consultation and present the main themes and views expressed in responses.
1.4 Next Steps
1.4.1 The draft Plan will be reviewed in response to comments made during the consultation. In the event that substantial changes are required as a result of this consultation process, further assessment and consultation may be required.
1.4.2 The final Plan will be prepared and presented for approval and adoption by Scottish Ministers. The final Plan will be published along with relevant supporting information, such as an Appropriate Assessment and Post Adoption Statement, as soon as possible thereafter. The application window for the first cycle of ScotWind leasing will close after the publication of the final Plan (exact timescales will be determined in due course).
1.4.3 The final adopted Plan will be subject to review which will ensure that the Plan remains reflective of current scientific understanding and knowledge, as well as the wider regulatory and policy context.