3 Draft Plan
3.1.1 The consultation posed seven questions to understand the stakeholder and public level of support for the plan. The questions were:
- Do you support the selection of the draft Plan Options?
- Do you agree with the definition of commercial scale offshore wind farm projects as being projects being capable of generating over 100 Megawatt (MW) of electricity? Do you think this level should be lower or higher?
- Do you agree that the scientific evidence presented demonstrates that DPOs NE2-6 and E3 are subject to high levels ornithological constraint and, therefore, the mitigation measures outlined in the draft Plan should be applied to these DPOs?
- Do you agree that the scientific evidence presented demonstrates the requirements for further regional-level survey work within DPOs E1 and E2?
- Do you have any comments regarding the proposed approach to iterative plan review?
- Do you have any comments regarding the proposed formation and role of the Advisory Group?
- Do you have any further comments or points that you think should be taken into account in the plan?
3.1.2 The responses to these questions are discussed in the following sections.
3.2 Question 1 - "Do you support the selection of the following draft Plan Options?"
3.2.1 The total number of responses in relation to each DPO was reasonably consistent ranging between 97 and 102, with the exception of SW1 for which 400 responses were received. Information on the number of responses and level of support for each DPO is provided in Table 3 below. Figure 3 represents numbers of responses for all DPOs and Figure 4 represents response type as a percentage of total responses at each DPO.
3.2.2 Support for each DPO was broadly consistent with 33 to 41 respondents showing broad support (strongly support or somewhat support) for each DPO. For most DPO this corresponded to 34% to 41% of the total respondents. The exception was for SW1 where only 10% of respondents supported the DPO.
3.2.3 Opposition to sites was more variable with broad opposition (somewhat oppose or strongly oppose) ranging between 19 (for E2) and 328 (for SW1), although excluding SW1 the next highest number of opposition responses was 39 (NE7). At SW1 the opposition responses were 82% of total responses, which is in part due to a petition (250 signatures) but even without the petition there were still 78 responses opposing the DPO.
3.2.4 For this question there were a significant number of responses which represented neither support nor oppose for all DPOs, numbering between 22 and 44 responses (not including responses which left the question blank) and making up generally between 20% and 40% of total responses (with the exception of SW1, 34 'neither support nor oppose' responses, 9%).
3.2.5 Reasoning given for opposition to DPOs varied between the DPOs, but included a variety of social, economic and environmental factors. The most commonly referenced were concerns regarding:
- impacts on fisheries (43 responses)
- impacts on biodiversity receptors, particularly bird features (41 responses)
- impacts on tourism (26 responses)
- impacts on landscape / seascape (20 responses)
- safety for recreational / commercial shipping (11 responses)
3.2.6 Smaller numbers of responses also referenced other environmental and socio-economic topics, including population effects, impacts on ports and harbours, impacts on the military, cultural heritage and marine geology and coastal processes.
3.2.7 Five (5) commercial fisheries sector organisation responses were received. Organisations in the commercial fisheries sector were more likely to oppose DPOs although this was not universal with the response 'somewhat support' selected by some organisations for some DPOs. Two (2) responses (Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) and Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA)) proposed changes to the areas on behalf of their members (Figure 5).
3.2.8 Conversely, albeit perhaps unsurprisingly, responses from the Energy sector were supportive across the board although not all organisations responded to each DPO individually.
|DPO||Strongly Support||Somewhat support||Neither support nor oppose||Somewhat oppose||Strongly oppose|
Figure 3 Support / Opposition for DPOs - Numbers
Figure 4 Support / Opposition for DPOs (%)
Figure 5 Modification proposed by fisheries response
3.3 Question 2 - "Do you agree with the definition of commercial scale offshore wind farm projects as being projects being capable of generating over 100 MW of electricity?"
3.3.1 There was uncertainty in responses to the question, with a number of responses suggesting that they were not well placed to answer, or responses indicating that the consultee was not clear about the implications of changing the definition of commercial scale developments. Nine (9) respondents proposed lowering the definition as they disagreed with any development, while six (6) suggested raising the definition as they supported all development.
3.3.2 18 responses noted that they were not concerned with the definition as long as the scrutiny applied to the assessment process was the same for all applications. One (1) response disagreed with the term 'commercial' and felt that projects should be classified as small, medium or large.
3.3.3 Table 4 summarises the results of those consultees who responded that the definition of commercial scale projects should be higher or lower than 100 MW. Where respondents stated that the level should be lower or higher, the reasons are discussed below.
|Lower (<100 MW)||As is (100 MW)||Higher (>100 MW)||Not answered|
3.3.4 The breakdown of organisational sectors in the responses is shown in Figure 6. Of the 35 total responses proposing a higher definition 21 were organisational, with 19 of these from the Energy sector. The principal reasoning given for an increase in the definition by the Energy sector was to support the development of larger demonstration projects, which in order to test specific array opportunities might need to be greater than 100MW in size. The most commonly proposed definition was up to 300 MW.
3.3.5 The only organisational responses supporting a lower definition were within the Commercial Fishing sector, emphasising that loss of fishing grounds was possible at any scale, and that cumulative effects should be considered irrespective of whether wind farms were considered to be of commercial scale.
3.3.6 Those organisations that favoured retaining the current definition generally considered that the scale of a 100 MW array had potential for significant effects and as such consideration as commercial would ensure robust assessment. Some questioned the validity of any reasoning for a 'test' or demonstration wind farm to be greater than 100 MW in scale.
3.3.7 Of the six public bodies which responded, although not represented in the graphic below, four (4) local councils favoured retaining the current definition whilst one (1) local council and National Grid favoured a lower definition.
3.4 Question 3 - Do you agree that the scientific evidence presented demonstrates that DPOs NE2-6 and E3 are subject to high levels ornithological constraint and, therefore, the mitigation measures outlined in the draft Plan should be applied to these DPOs?
3.4.1 There were a total of 38 definitive answers to this question with the vast majority of responses either selecting 'don't know' (73 responses) or providing no answer. Of the 38 responses, 21 agreed, whilst 17 disagreed, with the presented scientific evidence and mitigation measures.
3.4.2 Of the 17 who disagreed five (5) were individuals, with the remaining 12 linked to the Energy sector (Table 5). Only two (2) of the individual responses provided justification, linked to balancing climate change impacts against perceived lower impacts from offshore wind development. These two (2) respondents felt that changes in sand-eel distribution / changes in migration patterns expected as a result of climate change would make protection through this mitigation redundant. Of the 12 responses from the Energy sector, nine (9) considered that NE6 specifically should be removed from the mitigation. However, these responses often referenced that NE6 was beyond the published 60km mean max foraging range for kittiwake, a range which has subsequently (during the consultation period) been revised upwards by Woodward et al (2019) to 156 km which would now encompass NE6. Eight (8) of the responses requested that greater emphasis be provided to the 'built out' or recorded impacts of offshore wind projects rather than reliance on the modelled outcomes of assessments for currently consented sites. They considered that this would reduce the estimated cumulative impact. Six (6) responses referenced the decisions to consent all current sites with a conclusion of no Adverse Effect On Integrity (AEOI), and therefore considered there to be remaining environmental capacity.
3.4.3 The 21 respondents who supported the mitigation were from a wider spectrum of stakeholders, representing commercial fisheries, energy, ports and harbours, individual responses and organisations without sector specific remits (NA) (Table 5). These included nature conservation bodies (SNH / JNCC). Comments submitted alongside these responses generally supported the scientific evidence, although in three (3) responses from individuals it was suggested that the mitigation measures should be extended to include SW1. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland, whilst supportive of the need for further spatial planning proposed by the measures considered that further sites should be incorporated into the mitigation measures (NE7, NE8, E1 and E2) and requested additional clarification.
|NA (non-sector specific)||7||-||10|
|Ports & harbours||1||-||2|
|Tourism and recreation||-||-||2|
3.4.4 Some comments, included in responses both for and against the mitigation, requested further clarification about the process / timelines for review, and two responses considered that other receptors should also be used to determine mitigation (herring spawning grounds / marine mammal receptors).
3.4.5 Comments regarding the potential for application of Article 6(4) derogation are discussed under the HRA in section 4.3 below.
3.5 Question 4 "Do you agree that the scientific evidence presented demonstrates the requirements for further regional-level survey work within DPOs E1 and E2?"
3.5.1 The breakdown of answers to this question are similar to those for Question 3, above, with 'No' responses from 6 individuals and 12 organisations from the Energy sector and 23 'Yes' responses including a wider range of individuals, commercial fisheries, energy and non-sector specific organisations (Table 6).
|NA (non-sector specific)||6||-||9|
|Ports & harbours||-||-||3|
|Tourism and recreation||-||-||2|
3.5.2 Individual responses disagreeing with the proposed mitigation generally refer to support for wind farms and concerns that the requirements will lead to delays disproportionate to the risk. Energy responses opposing the measures are generally similar with eight (8) referring to their view that as no definitive AEOI is identified, no further data collection is necessary beyond that required for project level survey and assessment.
3.5.3 Supportive responses can broadly be broken down into two categories, the first supporting increased ornithological data collection to support future development in E1 and E2, the second proposing that further evidence is required for any future offshore wind development (5 individual responses).
3.5.4 Energy sector responses, including both those supporting and opposing the requirement for further survey, recognise the benefits of additional data in underpinning accurate assessments, although they also requested additional clarity regarding the process and timescales for addressing evidence gaps.
3.5.5 Although all three organisations concur with the requirement for further data collection, RSPB Scotland, SNH and JNCC did not select a clear answer to the question. JNCC and RSPB Scotland consider that E1 and E2 should be included in the temporal mitigation discussed under question 3.
3.6 Question 5 - "Do you have any comments regarding the proposed approach to iterative plan review?"
3.6.1 All but one of the 59 responses to this question were broadly supportive of IPR, with the single objection related to concerns from an individual regarding introduction of delays to the deployment of offshore wind. Table 7 shows the sectoral breakdown of the responses.
3.6.2 Whilst broadly supportive, 22 of the responses across multiple industries and individuals specifically request that the process be as transparent as possible. The energy sector raised concerns regarding the scope of IPR, and whether this could lead to areas previously unconstrained becoming constrained in future. There was concern that this would lead to an unacceptable increase in project risk.
3.6.3 In general, almost all respondents who commented were keen that further information regarding the scope of IPR (all sectoral responses considered that this should include their sector), and confirmation as to how it would be applied in practice should be available. A number of responses also queried how IPR will address the mitigation measures raised in Questions 3 and 4.
3.6.4 A small number of comments identified the potential for integration of IPR into wider marine planning processes.
|Sector||Number of responses|
|Carbon capture and storage||1|
|NA (non-sector specific)||12|
3.7 Question 6 - "Do you have any comments regarding the proposed formation and role of the Advisory Group?"
3.7.1 Where responses to this question (broken down by sector in Table 8) addressed the formation of the Advisory Group they were broadly supportive. However, numerous comments were made regarding the composition of the group, thirteen of which requested additional clarity regarding membership, with general consensus that a wide range of expertise from different sectors should be drawn upon. Specifically, the following representation was proposed:
- Local representation
- Environmental representation
- Scottish Government representation
- Industry professionals
- Commercial fisheries representation
- Royal Yachting Association (RYA)
- Offshore wind farm developer representation
- Technical experts beyond the membership of the ScotMER Ornithology Receptor Group
- Oil and Gas Authority
- HM Coastguard
- RSPB Scotland
- Wild Fish species experts
- Local council representation
- Wider spatial representation (UK wide / France)
- Representation from any impacted sector
3.7.2 In addition, numerous responses queried the scope of the Advisory Group, with 14 responses requesting further clarity, and 25 responses raising concerns that the Advisory Group as proposed appeared too focused on ornithological impacts. Two (2) responses proposed that it may be appropriate to have a sub-group for ornithological discussions.
3.7.3 One (1) response suggested that the advisory group should form part of the more general marine planning process and that existing groups should be approached rather than establishing a new process while one (1) organisational response considered that all data gaps should be filled prior to the adoption of the Sectoral Marine Plan (SMP).
|Sector||Number of responses|
|Carbon capture and storage||1|
|NA (non-sector specific)||11|
|Power Interconnectors / telecoms||1|
|Tourism and recreation||2|
3.8 Question 7 - "Do you have any further comments or points that you think should be taken into account in the plan?"
3.8.1 Responses to this question were broken down into comments at a national level versus comments aimed at a purely regional level (Table 9). Respondents raised a number of specific issues, alongside broader issues that are applicable to specific parts of the assessments (SEA / SEIA / RLG / HRA). Where comments are applicable to these documents, they are considered in Section 4.
|Sector||Number of responses|
|National||South West||West||North||North East||East||Total|
|Carbon capture and storage||1||-||-||-||-||-||1|
|Oil and gas||1||-||-||-||-||-||1|
|Ports & harbours||1||-||-||-||-||-||1|
|Tourism and recreation||1||1||-||-||-||-||2|
3.8.2 At a national scale the eight (8) individual results varied significantly but raised potential for co-installation of offshore wind with aquaculture (seaweed / shellfish) or alongside hydrogen production facilities rather than grid connection and two (2) responses identified the potential value of decarbonisation in communities local to projects. One (1) response requested project specific geotechnical survey over multiple diurnal periods.
3.8.3 Key points raised in organisational responses addressing a national scale included:
- Request for clarification as to whether the national, regional and DPO specific scenarios used throughout the assessments should be considered a cap (10 responses)
- Request for clarification as to the use of 5MW/km2 installed capacity density assumption. (7 responses)
- Clarification as to the potential for a developer to follow the Article 6(4) derogation route under the Habitats Regulation if it was not possible to conclude no adverse effect on integrity (NAEOI) at project level (4 responses). Note - this point is also raised throughout the responses received to a number of other questions
- Consideration of onshore grid / grid connections (3 responses)
- Request for clarification about whether offshore wind and fishing activity can be co-located (3 responses)
- Consideration of the impacts on ports / harbours (2 responses)
- Concerns regarding risks to development in sites exposed to harsh wave climates (1 response)
- Consideration of transboundary effects (2 responses)
- Request for clarification about the process used to refine previous Areas of Search (AoS) into the DPOs presented in the plan (1 response)
3.8.4 In SW region the points raised were principally related to topics to be raised against the SEA (navigational safety for recreational boating, biodiversity concerns, landscape issues) and SEIA (impact on tourism).
3.8.5 The single response related solely to the W region highlighted the importance of ensuring local bases for operation and maintenance activities to secure long term local economic benefits.
3.8.6 The one (1) response in the N region supported development and the output of the marine planning process, including expressing confidence in the potential for the measures identified to successfully mitigate impacts.
3.8.7 Five (5) of the six (6) responses for the NE region were associated with fishing and reiterated concerns regarding loss of fishing areas.
3.8.8 The other response identifies that parts of NE1 fell within the remit of the Shetland Islands Council and recommended that further consideration be given to how potential works orders required from the Council may be coordinated with other required consents. The response proposed further consultation with Shetland Islands Council prior to plan acceptance.
3.8.9 Two (2) comments were made with a focus on the E region, one raised points already considered in questions 4, 5 and 6 above. The other identifies potential for increased cargo and passenger trade routes between Scotland and Scandinavia in the light of Brexit and suggests that these are considered.