Publication - Publication

Offshore wind energy - draft sectoral marine plan: strategic environmental assessment

Published: 18 Dec 2019
Directorate:
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Energy, Marine and fisheries
ISBN:
9781839603761

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) identifies the likely significant environmental impacts of plans and policies and proposed reasonable alternatives to them.

305 page PDF

12.4 MB

305 page PDF

12.4 MB

Contents
Offshore wind energy - draft sectoral marine plan: strategic environmental assessment
Appendix C Assessment of Environmental Effects at Individual DPO

305 page PDF

12.4 MB

Appendix C Assessment of Environmental Effects at Individual DPO

C.1 South West

SW1

SW1

Total DPO Area: 292 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (68%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitats in SW1 are mostly coarse sediment, with some small patches of sand and rock to the north and west of the DPO respectively. There is no sensitive (priority marine feature) habitat identified within SW1, however there are known maerl beds within the Luce Bay SAC which borders the DPO immediately to the North.

There are further sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including those associated with the Luce Bay and Sands SAC (including subtidal sandbanks, shifting dunes, intertidal mudflats and sandflats, dune grassland and coastal dune heathland).

Marine Mammals

There are known, albeit comparatively small when considered in the context of Scottish waters, populations of harbour porpoise and harbour seal in the Solway Firth, which will likely use SW1 and the North Channel SAC designated for harbour porpoise in Northern Ireland is immediately to the south of the DPO. There is also an area of increased Grey seal at sea usage within Luce Bay, which overlaps into SW1. There are no areas protected for otter in the South West region, however there is potential for their presence in coastal and riverine environments within the region.

Birds

There are a number of important bird populations within the Solway Firth, including SPA and pSPA designated for waterfowl assemblages and records of a range of bird species, including great northern diver in Luce Bay, manx shearwater to the west of the Rhins of Galloway and fulmar from Irish Sea colonies. There are significant numbers of bird sightings to the west of the Rhins of Galloway, which are likely to include migration routes around the coast. RSPB utilisation distribution data indicates that there are likely to be populations of shag, Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake and Razorbill foraging in the northern extents of the DPO.

In addition, there are a number of migration routes of both seabird, waterbird and terrestrial bird species on the west coast of Scotland. Specific concerns have been raised regarding the migration flyways of Whooper Swan[326] which is known to cross the Solway Firth and Corncrake which migrates up the west coast to population centres on the Outer Hebrides.

Fish

Within SW1 there are known spawning and nursery grounds for several species. This includes spawning grounds for herring, cod, whiting, plaice and sole.

There are a number of migratory fish which are known to use the Solway and are protected through the SAC network in the Solway Firth. These include shad species and sea lamprey.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables. There is no identified habitat of particular sensitivity within SW1 which would be affected by this pathway, however the coarse and sandy sediments may be of importance for fish spawning.

In addition, changes to sediment transport in the region has the potential to affect sensitive habitat outwith the DPO, particularly the habitat designated within the Luce Bay SAC.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of SW1 associated with export cables and cable landfalls. This includes potential effects on the habitats designated for the Luce Bay and Sands.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. There are no particularly sensitive habitats which will be affected in SW1.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on benthic habitat is therefore considered to be minor to moderate negative in SW1.

Effects on key mobile receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement.

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially effecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds. In the case of SW1, particularly if the northern boundary of the DPO were to be developed in its entirety, there is potential for barrier effects on species moving in and out of Luce Bay.

There is generally a low collision risk associated with bird species around the Solway Firth, with the exception of Whooper Swan, which has been identified as a concern previously and for which the Solway Firth is considered a key passage area[327]. In the northern areas of the DPO potential for displacement of seabird species exists, although the density of seabird species in the DPO is generally considered to be low.

Effects on fish (particularly species using the DPO for spawning) can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activities.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to Whooper Swan in SW1 studies should be undertaken at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. However, SW1 is not identified as a key foraging ground for species of international or national importance and spatial planning can be used to reduce the potential for barrier effects.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in SW1 is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within SW1, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if this activity is displaced to a different area, this may be negligible or potentially a negative effect.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in SW1 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within SW1.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within SW1.

There a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

Due to the offshore nature of the SW1 DPO there are no significant populations directly adjacent to the DPO. The coastline landwards of SW1 is generally sparsely populated, with a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boating and recreational angling. This includes the DPO being intersected by key shipping routes (both east to west and north to south) and several RYA informal cruising routes.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

SW1 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effect on human health / populations cannot be assessed.

This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

SW1 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effect on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At the project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development.

It is likely that, based on development of 68% of the DPO, spatial planning in SW1 could be used to reduce effects on key shipping routes and allow safe transit.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of SW1 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to major negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

Luce Bay is an important area for recreational fishing, which would have the potential to be affected by export cables or by any barrier effects to fish from offshore wind development.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effect on human health / populations cannot be assessed.

Avoidance of Luce Bay SAC when considering export cables has the potential to avoid conflict with significant recreational activities. Assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

Offshore wind development within SW1 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in SW1 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in SW1 are mostly coarse sediment, with some small patches of sand and rock to the north and west of the DPO respectively.

The coastline facing SW1 is mostly soft sediment susceptible to coastal erosion, generally associated with Luce Bay. This includes coastal dune features (shifting and fixed) which are primary reasons for the designation of the Luce Bay and Sands SAC. To the west, on the southern and western edges of the Rhins of Galloway there are areas of hard rock / cliff.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in SW1, or export cable routes / landfall to affect the sediment transport in the region and on coastal processes. This includes potential for effects on sensitive habitats potentially susceptible to coastal erosion designated as part of the Luce Bay SAC.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, the likely array design and cable routes / landfall locations. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

Planning should be used to avoid areas of sensitivity when considering the cable route, such as avoidance of routing a cable through the Luce Bay SAC.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be minor negative to moderate negative due to the potential effects on SAC features.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There is one water body adjacent to or overlapping with SW1, the Luce bay water body (good condition).

Effects on ecological status.

The development of offshore wind farms within SW1 and associated cable routes / landfall has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime. Any changes to the natural condition of the Luce Bay water body have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within SW1

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely, the assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in SW1 to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes, this includes potential effects on the Luce Bay SAC features.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in SW1 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to SW1. There is one known shipwreck within SW1.

The coastline inshore of SW1 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

There is potential for palaeolandscape to be present in the Solway Firth, particularly around the estuary margins, and within Luce Bay and therefore potential for submerged archaeological remains.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within SW1 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of SW1 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Submerged archaeological remains inshore of SW1 associated with palaeolandscape also have the potential to be affected by the route of export cables and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within SW1 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within SW1 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

65% of SW1 is within 15 km of coastline identified as medium to high sensitivity to offshore wind farm development[328].

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

Offshore wind development in SW1 has the potential to significantly affect the seascape associated with medium to high sensitivity coastline.

There is some potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. This is unlikely to remove the effects altogether within SW1 due to the large proportion of the site within 15 km of land. The development within SW1 will require the application of SNH guidance on management of night-time lighting effects.

The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be moderate negative to major negative, dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development within the DPO.

C.2 West

W1

W1

Total DPO Area: 1107 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (36%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in W1 generally graduates with increasing depth from a small area of rock and biogenic reef in the southwest nearest to Islay through a thin band of coarse sediment to sandy sediments in the north. There are small areas of rocky reef in the north east and north west of the region.

The area of rocky reef in the north-western corner of the DPO supports a Priority Marine Feature community of deep sponges.

There are also further sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including reef features in the Firth of Lorn SAC.

Marine Mammals

The DPO borders the Inner Hebrides and Minches SAC, designated for harbour porpoise, and the Sea of the Hebrides proposed NCMPA, designated for minke whale, the ranges of which may extend into W1, although the key areas in the West region for cetaceans are further north towards the Minches. W1 overlaps into an area of high Grey Seal at sea usage, associated with haul out and pupping sites on Islay and Colonsay. There are several sites designated for otter in the West region. All the sites are inshore of the DPO, generally on sheltered sea lochs or riverine environments. The main sites inshore of the DPO are landwards of Jura, and therefore it is not expected there would be any usage of the DPO area by otter for foraging.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within W1, particularly to the east of the DPO is high. There are populations of Kittiwake, Guillemot, Chough and several goose species designated as part of SPA on Islay and Colonsay. RSPB utilisation distribution data indicates that is high usage of W1, particularly in inshore areas by Guillemot, Blacklegged Kittiwake and Razorbill.

In addition there are a number of migration routes of both seabird, waterbird and terrestrial bird species on the west coast of Scotland.

Fish

Within W1 there are known nursery grounds for several species. This includes nursery grounds for herring, spurdog, blue whiting and whiting.

There are a number of migratory fish which are known to use the area, including Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

W1 borders onto the Sea of the Hebrides proposed NCMPA, designated for basking shark, which are present from April to October, with key breeding aggregations in July and August. Whilst the hotspots for basking shark activity (around Coll, Tiree and Canna) are further to the north, there records of basking sharks overlapping the DPO and there is potential for individuals to transit the area as a route between the Clyde, where they are regularly sighted, and hotspots further north in the proposed NCMPA.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables. There are areas of habitat containing nationally important communities within the DPO which have the potential to be affected by OW development.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of W1 associated with export cables and cable landfalls. This includes potential effects on the habitats designated for the Firth of Lorn SAC.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. There is potential to spatially plan array development within W1 to avoid sensitive habitats, and hard rock / reef habitats are generally not preferentially selected for offshore wind development.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor to moderate negative in W1.

Effects on key mobile receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement.

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds, whilst the movement of vessels (particularly during construction and decommissioning) has the potential to increase collision risk for species in the DPO.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Where there is the potential for impacts on Basking sharks, there is potential that the construction and decommissioning phases of the wind farm may be temporally limited to avoid key breeding aggregation time periods (July and August).

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within W1 and subsequently influence the turbine design, studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. The eastern area of W1 is an area of high usage density for grey seal, therefore development has the potential to displace this species from key foraging grounds. In addition, displacement of bird species from W1, particularly in the east, may have a negative effect.

Given that the likely maximum degree of construction within W1 will develop 36% of the site there is significant potential for spatial planning. It should, however, be noted that water depth is variable across W1 and therefore development may be spatially constrained dependent on the preferred technology.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in W1 is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within W1, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activities are displaced to another area, the effect is negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in W1 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within W1.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within W1.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

Areas of W1 are within 5 km of land on Islay. However the coastline landwards of W1 is generally sparsely populated, with a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boating and recreational angling. This includes the DPO being intersected some commercial shipping and several RYA informal cruising routes.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

W1 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects. during operation. There is potential for noise and vibration effects from piling activities due to the proximity of the south-eastern boundary of W1 to Islay.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

Given that the likely maximum degree of construction within W1 will develop 36% of the site there is significant potential for spatial planning. It should, however, be noted that water depth is variable across W1 and therefore development may be spatially constrained dependent on the preferred technology.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effect on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

The residual risk associated with noise and vibration effects from development in W1 is considered to be minor negative.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

W1 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effect on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 36% of the DPO, spatial planning in W1 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the wind farm. It should, however, be noted that water depth is variable across W1 and therefore development may be spatially constrained dependent on the preferred technology.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of W1 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary. There are potentially recreational

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effect on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within W1 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in W1 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in W1 generally graduate with increasing depth from a small area of rock and biogenic reef in the southwest nearest to Islay through a thin band of coarse sediment to sandy sediments in the north. There are small areas of rocky reef in the north east of the region.

The coastline facing N1 is mostly hard rock and cliffs, with low susceptibility to coastal erosion.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in W1 to affect the sediment transport in the region and on coastal processes. This includes potential for effects on sensitive habitats such through smothering of reef habitats.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are three water bodies adjacent to or overlapping with W1, West Islay water body (good condition), Atlantic Ocean – SW Mull (high condition) and Colonsay water body (good condition)

Effects on ecological status.

The development of offshore wind farms within W1, and associated cable routes / landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies, particularly where currently assessed as high (Atlantic Ocean-SW Mull), have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within W1.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in W1 to affect the sediment transport in the region, and subsequently to affect coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in W1 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to W1. There are two shipwrecks within W1.

The coastline inshore of W1 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within W1 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of W1 have the potential to be affected by export cables and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within W1 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within W1 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

62% of the area W1 is within 15 km of coastline identified as medium to high sensitivity to offshore wind farm development[329].

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind farms in W1 has the potential to significantly affect the seascape associated with medium to high sensitivity coastline.

There is some potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. It should, however, be noted that water depth is variable across W1 and therefore development may be spatially constrained dependent on the preferred technology. The development within W1 will require the application of SNH guidance on management of night-time lighting effects.

The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to major negative, dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development within the DPO.

C.3 North

N1

N1

Total DPO Area: 1163 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (34%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in N1 is mostly sand and coarse sediment throughout. There are small areas of rocky reef towards the north eastern boundary and immediately beyond the north western boundary around Sule Stack.

There are no designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO.

Marine Mammals

N1 is generally an area of low usage for marine mammals, although there is some grey seal at sea usage to the north west of the site associated with pupping sites at Sule Skerry. For marine mammals there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There are several sites designated for otter in the North region. The majority of sites are on the north coast of mainland Scotland, to the west of areas inshore of N1, however there are sites associated with the River Borgie and Durness which are on the north coast of Scotland inshore of N1. It is not expected there would be usage of the DPO area by otter for foraging, however there is potential for effects from cable landfalls.

Birds

There is high bird usage of the area within N1, particularly associated with designated breeding colonies at the Sule Skerry and Sule Stack SPA just beyond the north west boundary of the DPO. The site is particularly important for breeding Gannet and puffin with smaller populations of leach's petrel, Guillemot, shag and storm petrel. RSPB utilisation distribution data indicates that is high usage of the eastern portion of N1 by Black-legged Kittiwake foraging from populations in the Orkney islands.

In addition there are a potential migration routes for a range of bird species, including Whooper Swan which will intersect N1. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Fish

Within N1 there are known nursery grounds for several species. This includes nursery grounds for mackerel, spurdog, blue whiting and anglerfish, all of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters. In addition the North-west Orkney NCMPA, less than 5 km to the north east of N1 is designated for sandeel.

There are a number of migratory fish which are known to transit through the area, including Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss)

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of N1 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. There is potential to spatially plan array development within N1 to avoid sensitive habitats, and hard rock / reef habitats are generally not preferentially selected for offshore wind development.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in N1.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially effecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within N1, studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. The west area of N1 is in close proximity to a grey seal breeding colony at Sule Skerry, therefore development has the potential to displace this species from foraging grounds, although current understanding of seal distribution from this colony suggests higher concentration to the west of Sule Skerry away from the DPO. In addition displacement of bird species from N1, particularly Kittiwake in the east and species designated in the Sule Skerry and Sule Stack SPA may have a negative effect.

Given that the likely maximum degree of construction within N1 will develop 33% of the site there is significant potential for spatial planning. It should, however, be noted that water depth is variable across N1 and therefore development may be spatially constrained dependent on the preferred technology.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in N1 is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within N1, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in N1 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within N1.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within N1.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

N1 is located offshore, with no population within 15 km. Areas of N1 are within 5 km of land, however this is unpopulated (Sule Skerry and Sule Stack).

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boating and recreational angling. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, however there are no clear key routes. There are several RYA informal cruising routes which intersect the south and southwest areas of the DPO. These are associated with higher numbers of recreational vessels on transit towards / from the Orkney Islands.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development

N1 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities

N1 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety and collision risk

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 33% of the DPO, spatial planning in N1 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the wind farm. It should, however, be noted that water depth is variable across N1 and therefore development may be spatially constrained dependent on the preferred technology.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of N1 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to major negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access (note: recreation and tourism have also been considered in the SEIA)

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 2 GW of capacity within N1 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in N1 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in N1 are mostly sand and coarse sediment throughout. There are small areas of rocky reef towards the north eastern boundary and immediately beyond the north western boundary around Sule Stack.

The coastline facing N1 is mostly hard rock and cliffs, with low susceptibility to coastal erosion. There are areas, generally in sea lochs, and estuaries which are of softer sediment, however these are more than 15 km from the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N1 and associated export cables / cable export to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes. This includes potential for effects on sensitive habitats such through smothering of reef habitats.

The extent of the effect will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, cable landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes. The distance of the DPO from the shoreline of mainland Scotland and the Orkney Islands will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >15 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There is one water body or overlapping with N1, Sule Skerry and Sule Stack water body (high condition). In addition there are four water bodies inshore of N1. Of these, two are adjacent to the north coast of the Scottish mainland (Cape Wrath and Strathy Point, both good condition) and two are adjacent to the Orkney Islands (Tor Ness to Breck Ness, high condition, and Breck ness to Noup Head, good condition).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind farms within N1 and associated export cables and cable landfalls have the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies, particularly where currently assessed as high (Sule Skerry and Sule Stack), have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within N1.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N1 to affect the sediment transport in the region, and subsequently to effect coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in N1 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to N1. There are 4 known shipwrecks within N1.

The coastline inshore of N1 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within N1 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of N1 have the potential to be affected by the export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within N1 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within N1 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

All of N1 is beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines. There are two NSA with coastlines facing N1 (Kyle of Tongue and Orkney Islands).

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in N1 has the potential to affect landscape or seascape, with the potential for turbines within the DPO to be visible form the Kyle of Tongue and Orkney Islands NSA.

While there is potential for the turbines to be visible from land, and effect views from the two NSA, the effects have the potential to be mitigated through array design, spatial planning and turbine selection. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

N2

N2

Total DPO Area: 560 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (71%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in N2 is sand and coarse sediment throughout. There are reef habitats designated within the Solan Bank Reef SAC adjacent to the east boundary of N2,

There are areas of designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including at Durness and Loch Laxford SACs.

Marine Mammals

N2 is generally an area of low usage for marine mammals albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. Areas immediately to the south of the DPO are, however, areas of higher cetacean usage, and the proposed NCMPA at North East Lewis is proposed for designation for Risso's dolphin and minke whale.

There are several sites designated for otter in the North region. There are sites associated with the Durness SAC on the north coast of Scotland inshore of N2. It is not expected there would be usage of the DPO area by otter for foraging, however there is potential for effects from cable landfalls.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within N2 is generally considered to be low. There are significant bird populations to the north west of the site at the North Rona and Sula Sgeir SPA, however the water depth within N2 is generally deeper than generally used for foraging.

In addition there are a potential migration routes for a range of bird species, including Whooper Swan which will intersect N2. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Fish

Within N2 there are known nursery grounds for several species. This includes nursery grounds for mackerel, spurdog, blue whiting and anglerfish, all of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are a number of migratory fish which are known to transit through the area, including Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss)

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of N2 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. Within N2 there is no designated sensitive habitat, however consideration should be given to any indirect impacts on the reef habitats in the Solan Bank Reef SAC.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative in N2.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially effecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within N2, survey and studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. However, N2 is not identified as a key foraging area.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in N2 is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within N2, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in N2 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within N2.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within N2.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level. The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

N2 is located offshore, with no population within 15 km.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, principally associated with vessels from the IMO deep water route to the west of the Hebrides or with traffic entering / exiting the Minches.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development

N2 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities

N2 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety and collision risk

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 71% of the DPO, a degree of spatial planning in N2 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of N2 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access (note: recreation and tourism have also been considered in the SEIA)

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 2 GW of capacity within N2 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in N2 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in N2 are sand and coarse sediment throughout.

N2 is a significant distance from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N2, and associated cable routes and landfalls, to affect the sediment transport around the site. This includes potential for effects on sensitive habitats such through smothering of reef habitats.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, cable routes, landfall locations and cable designs.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >15 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are no overlapping waterbodies with N2. There are, however a number of water bodies inshore of N2, all of which are of good condition.

Effects on ecological status.

The development of offshore wind farms within N2, and associated cable routes and landfalls, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Effects due to the array development are considered to be unlikely due to distance factors. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within N2.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N2 to affect the sediment transport in the region, and subsequently to affect coastal processes. It is considered unlikely that development in N2 will significantly affect coastal processes due to the distance of the DPO from the coastline, although the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >15 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in N2 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to N2. There is one known shipwreck within N2.

The coastline inshore of N2 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within N2 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of N2 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within N2 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within N2 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

All of N2 is beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in N2 has the potential to be visible and therefore may affect landscape or seascape.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. The development within N2 may also require management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

N3

N3

Total DPO Area: 1106 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (36%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in N3 is principally sand and coarse sediment. There are, however, areas of rock / biogenic reef the north east edges of the DPO.

Marine Mammals

N3 is generally an area of low to moderate usage for marine mammals, with higher usage areas at the north eastern edge of the site. For cetaceans there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. Areas to the south west of the DPO and to the east of the DPO are, however, areas of higher cetacean usage, and the proposed NCMPA at North East Lewis is proposed for designation for Risso's dolphin and minke whale. There is little use of the area by seals.

There are several sites designated for otter in the North region. However, these sites are generally associated with the mainland or the southern Outer Hebrides and are not directly inshore of N3.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within N3 is generally considered to be low. There, however are significant bird populations to the north west of the site at the North Rona and Sula Sgeir SPA which are thought to use areas in the north east of N3 for foraging.

In addition there are a potential migration routes for a range of bird species, including Whooper Swan which will intersect N3. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Fish

Within N3 there are known nursery grounds for several species. This includes nursery grounds for mackerel, spurdog, whiting, blue whiting and anglerfish, all of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are a number of migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area, including Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss)

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of N3 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. Within N3 there is no designated sensitive habitat.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative in N3.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially effecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within N3, survey and studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. N3 is not generally identified as a key foraging area, however development of the north east of the site has the potential to affect bird species foraging from the North Rona and Sula Sgeir SPA. There is potential for any effects from this to be mitigated through spatial planning to avoid development in the north east of the DPO.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in N3 is considered to be negligible to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within N3, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in N3 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within N3.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within N3.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

N3 is located offshore, with no population within 15 km.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping, including close proximity to the IMO recommended deep water route to the west of the Hebrides and routes across the Atlantic, and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, principally associated with vessels from the IMO deep water route.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development

N3 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities

N3 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety and collision risk

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 36% of the DPO, significant spatial planning in N3 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through and around the development.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of N3 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access (note: recreation and tourism have also been considered in the SEIA)

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 2 GW of capacity within N3 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in N3 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in N3 are principally sand and coarse sediment. There are, however, areas of rock / biogenic reef at both the south west and north east edges of the DPO.

N3 is a significant distance from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N3, and associated export cable routes and landfalls, to affect the sediment transport around the site. This includes potential for effects on habitats such through smothering of reef habitats present within the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >15 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are no overlapping waterbodies with N3. There is, however, one water body inshore of N3, Gallan Head to Butt of Lewis (high condition).

Effects on ecological status.

The development of offshore wind farms within N3, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Effects due to the array development are considered to be unlikely due to distance factors. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies, particularly where currently assessed as high quality, as at Gallan Head to Butt of Lewis, have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within N3.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N3 to affect the sediment transport in the region, and subsequently to affect coastal processes. It is considered unlikely that development in N3 will significantly affect coastal processes due to the distance of the DPO from the coastline, although the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >15 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in N3 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to N3. There are four known shipwrecks within N3.

The coastline inshore of N3 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within N3 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of N3 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within N3 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within N3, survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

All of N3 is beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in N3 has the potential to be visible from land and hence effect landscape / seascapes.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. The development within N3 may also require management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

N4

N4

Total DPO Area: 200 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (100%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in N4 is principally sand and coarse sediment. There are, however, areas of rock / biogenic reef towards all four boundaries of the DPO.

There are areas of designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO within Loch Roag.

Marine Mammals

N4 is generally an area of moderate usage for cetaceans, albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. Areas to the east of the DPO are, however, areas of higher cetacean usage, and the proposed NCMPA at North East Lewis is proposed for designation for Risso's dolphin and minke whale. There is some usage of the DPO by both grey and harbour seals, although the majority of higher use areas are south west of N4.

There are several sites designated for otter in the North region. However, these sites are generally associated with the mainland or the southern Outer Hebrides, and are not directly inshore of N4.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within N4 is generally considered to be low. However, there are known breeding colonies around Lewis, and birds from these colonies have the potential to be found within N4.

In addition there are a potential migration routes for a range of bird species, including Whooper Swan which will intersect N4. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

Fish

Within N4 there are known nursery grounds for several species. This includes nursery grounds for mackerel, spurdog, whiting, blue whiting and anglerfish, all of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are a number of migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area, including Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss)

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of N4 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. Within N4 there is no designated sensitive habitat.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in N4.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially effecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within N4, survey and studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. However, N4 is not generally identified as a key foraging area.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in N4 is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within N4, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in N4 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within N4.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within N3.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

N4 is located close inshore, with the entire DPO within 15 km of the coast. There are a number of small settlements on the west coast of Lewis which will be directly inshore of N4. There are further potentially sensitive receptors on coastlines adjacent to N4, including a primary school and several churches.

Areas within the DPO are, additionally, used for the purposes of commercial shipping, including close proximity inshore of the IMO recommended deep water route to the west of the Hebrides, recreational boating and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, principally associated with vessels from the IMO deep water route.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development

N4 is located inshore, with the closest point less than 3 km from land. As such, the turbines have the potential to affect populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

Airborne noise assessments will be undertaken at a project level. It is likely that piling noise during construction will affect local populations, and as such temporal restrictions on piling activity to avoid antisocial hours could be considered. In addition different turbine designs will require different degrees of piling, and therefore consideration of foundation design has the potential to reduce airborne noise.

Flicker effects are considered to have a potential effect within ten times the radius of the turbine, therefore effects could be mitigated through consideration of turbine size within the DPO.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

The residual effect from development of N4 is considered to be minor negative to major negative dependant on the turbine and foundation designs, and the level of mitigation applied.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities

N4 is located offshore, and as such Effects on residential amenity are restricted to visual effects, considered separately below.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety and collision risk

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

There is potential for vessels encountering severe weather in the recommended deep water shipping route to be forced into areas closer to the coast, including areas within N4.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

There is considered to be very little opportunity for spatial planning in N4 to reduce effects. N4 is inshore of major deep water shipping routes and overlaps with recreational boating informal routes, which, based on the maximum likely development of 100% of the area, are unlikely to be avoided.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of N4 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access (note: recreation and tourism have also been considered in the SEIA)

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within N4 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in N4 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in N4 are principally sand and coarse sediment. There are, however, areas of rock / biogenic reef towards all four boundaries of the DPO.

N4 is in an inshore location, with the closest point 3 km from the coastline. The coastline inshore of N4 is dominated by hard rock and cliffs with low coastal erosion potential, with some areas of natural beach.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N4, and associated cable export routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site and coastal processes.

This includes potential for effects on habitats such through smothering of reef habitats present within the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which is expected to include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling to confirm and validate any effects on coastal processes associated with coastlines adjacent to the DPO.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to moderate negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

N4 overlaps with one coastal water body, Gallan Head to Butt of Lewis (high condition).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within N4, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the Gallan Head to Butt of Lewis water body. Any changes to the natural condition of the water body, particularly where currently assessed as high quality, have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within N4.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in N4 to affect the sediment transport in the region, and subsequently to affect coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which is expected to include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to moderate negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in N4 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to N4. There are no known shipwrecks within N4.

The coastline inshore of N4 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for any unknown shipwrecks within N4 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of N4 have the potential to be affected by the export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through array design within N4 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within N4, survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided.

Based on the acquisition and application of survey data during the site design stage, the effect on cultural heritage is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

All of N4 is within 15 km from inhabited shorelines, with the closest areas approximately 3 km from land.

The coastline landwards of N4 is assessed as being of medium sensitivity. There is a NSA to the south of the DPO, from which the turbines would be likely to be visible.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in N4 will have significant visual effects in areas assessed as of medium sensitivity with some effects on views from the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist NSA. There are a number of residential areas with views from the coastline towards N4, whose visual amenity would be affected.

There is potential for the turbine size to be reduced, in order to partially mitigate visual effects. However, even smaller turbines will affect the visual amenity of the local population and affect the seascape. The development within N4 will require the application of SNH guidance on management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect is considered to be moderate negative to major negative. However it should be noted that this is, to a degree, a subjective topic and therefore local engagement and acceptance of development within N4 has the potential to alter the significance of the effect.

C.4 North East

NE1

NE1

Total DPO Area: 776 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (52%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE1 is mostly sandy sediment, with areas of coarse sediment to the west. There is no sensitive (priority marine feature) habitat identified within NE1, however there is potential for the presence of examples of the features identified in the Pobie Bank Reef SAC to be present within the DPO.

There are sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including those associated with the Pobie Bank Reef SAC. It supports fauna that is usually associated with rocky reefs including an extensive community of encrusting and robust sponges and bryozoans.

Marine Mammals

There are known populations of harbour and grey seal in the Shetland Islands.

Cetacean usage of the seas around the Shetland Islands is generally concentrated to the west of the islands, with the exception of harbour porpoise populations, for which high encounter rates are observed throughout the islands. Other cetaceans known to extensively use the seas around the Shetland Islands include minke whale, white beaked dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Risso's dolphin, killer whale and sperm whale. Yell Sounds which is inland from NE1 is used by otters.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE1 is generally low. However, there are important populations of sensitive species, including Arctic skua, Arctic tern, dunlin, fulmar, great skua, red-necked phalarope, whimbrel, red throated diver, Kittiwake, puffin, Guillemot and Gannets which are resident on the Shetland Islands to the west of the DPO.

In addition, there are a number of migration routes which have the potential to intersect with NE1. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE1 there are known spawning and nursery grounds for several species. This includes spawning grounds for herring, cod and whiting. Shetland has populations of fish which are commercially important.

There are also a number of migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables. There is no identified habitat of particular sensitivity within NE1 which would be affected by this pathway, however the sandy sediments may be of importance for fish spawning.

There is potential for effects on habitats inshore of NE1 associated with export cables and cable landfalls. This includes potential effects on the habitats designated for the Pobie Bank Reef SAC.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. There are no particularly sensitive habitats which will be affected in NE1, and sediment and hydrodynamic modelling will be required to assess any potential effects on the Pobie Reef Bank SAC features.

Effects on habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be moderate negative in NE1 due to the proximity of the DPO to the Pobie Bank Reef SAC.

Effects on key mobile receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement.

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, preventing the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There are hotspots associated with the colonies in the south of the Shetland Islands, and the Sumburgh Head SPA site, and areas of high recordings overlap into the south-eastern extent of AoS NE1

Effects on fish (particularly species using the DPO for spawning) can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activities.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to migrating species in NE1, studies should be undertaken at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird and marine species outwith the DPO, which has the potential to affect important populations of foraging birds.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE1 is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE1, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from the offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE1 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE1.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE1.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

Due to the offshore nature of the NE1 DPO there are no significant populations directly adjacent to the DPO. The coastline landwards of NE1 is generally sparsely populated, with a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping and recreational boating. There is an overall moderate density of commercial shipping throughout the DPO but no clearly defined key routes.

The DPO is intersected by a RYA informal cruising route.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE1 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE1 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind development.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At the project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development.

It is likely that, based on development of 52% of the DPO area, some spatial planning in NE1 could be used to reduce effects on key shipping routes and allow safe transit.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE1 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 2 GW of capacity within NE1 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE1 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in SW1 are mostly sandy, with areas of coarse sediment to the west and designated benthic habitat adjacent to the western boundary associated with the Pobie Bank Reef SAC.

The coastline facing NE1 is hard rock / cliff in more exposed locations, with softer coastline more susceptible to coastal erosion in more sheltered locations and within bays. There are also natural beaches and harbours.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE1, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on marine geology and coastal processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to moderate negative due to the potential for effects on the Pobie Bank Reef SAC.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are three water bodies adjacent to NE1, Herma Ness to Heoga Ness (good condition), Heoga Ness to The Keen (good condition), The Kenn to Isle of Noss (good condition).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE1, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE1.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE1 to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design, therefore it is expected that hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling would be required at a project level to determine the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes, particularly with regards to any effects on the Pobie Bank Reef SAC features.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to moderate negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE1 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There is a Historic MPA adjacent to NE1. There are 6 known shipwrecks within NE1.

The coastline inshore of NE1 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

There is potential for palaeolandscape to be present around Shetland and therefore potential for submerged archaeological remains.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE1 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE1 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Submerged archaeological remains inshore of NE1 associated with palaeolandscape also have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE1 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE1, survey data will be obtained. This will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

0% of NE1 is within 15 km of coastline. The closest point is 18km from land.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind farms in NE1 is considered unlikely to significantly affect landscape, seascape or visual amenity, however larger turbines have the potential to be visible from land.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. The development within NE1 may also require management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

NE2

NE2

Total DPO Area: 464 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (43%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE2 is sandy throughout with a small area of rock towards the western boundary. There are no known sensitive species within the DPO, however the presence of fan mussel beds is recorded immediately west of the western boundary, and as such there is potential for their presence within the DPO.

There are further areas of designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, with Sanday SAC in the Orkney Islands designated for mudflats / sandflats, reefs and subtidal sandflats.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE2 is currently thought to be low overall, albeit this conclusion requires confirmation through survey prior to project level assessment. There is likely usage of the DPO by marine mammals, principally grey seal associated with foraging from haul out sites and breeding colonies in the Orkney Islands. The Sanday SAC in the Orkney Islands is also designated for harbour seal, the populations of which are currently in decline in the region.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE2 is generally low. However there are important populations of sensitive species, including Black Legged Kittiwake associated with the breeding colony in the Copinsay SPA (~10,000 breeding pairs).

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE2. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE2 there are known spawning areas for herring. In addition there are nursery grounds for whiting and anglerfish, both of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE2 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative in NE2.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Risks to spawning fish can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activity to avoid key spawning times.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE2, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO, which has the potential to affect Kittiwake populations foraging from the Copinsay SPA.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, and the potential importance of the DPO to foraging Kittiwake the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE2 is considered to be minor to major negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE2 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE2 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE2.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE2.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE2 is located mostly (96%) beyond 15 km of the nearest land on the Orkney Islands, the coastlines of which facing the DPO are populated by a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE2 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE2 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 43% of the DPO, spatial planning in NE2 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development. In addition, there is potential for diversion of the majority of the traffic around NE2 with limited effect on mileage or time.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE2 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within NE2 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE2 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE are sandy throughout with a small area of rock towards the western boundary.

NE2 is a significant distance (mostly greater than 15 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE2, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE2 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE2, the majority of which are of good condition, with the exception of Mull Head to Old Head water body east of the Orkney Islands which is high condition.

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE2, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE2.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE2 to affect the sediment transport in the region and on coastal processes. In addition, the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE2 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE2. There are 10 known shipwrecks within NE2.

The area and coastline inshore of NE2 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE2 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE2 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE2 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE2 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE2 is mostly (96%) beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE2 has the potential to affect landscape / seascapes.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. Development within NE2 may also require the assessment and management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

NE3

NE3

Total DPO Area: 339 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (59%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE3 is sand and course sediment throughout. There are no known sensitive species within or landwards of the DPO.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE3 is low overall albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There is likely usage of the DPO by marine mammals, principally grey seal associated with foraging from haul out sites and breeding colonies in the Orkney Islands.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE3 is generally low. However there are important populations of sensitive species, including Black Legged Kittiwake associated with the breeding colony in the Copinsay SPA (~10,000 breeding pairs), some of which are likely to forage within NE3.

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE3. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE3 there are known spawning areas for herring and sandeel. In addition there are nursery grounds for whiting and anglerfish, both of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE3 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative in NE3.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Risks to spawning fish can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activity to avoid key spawning times.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE3, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO, which has the potential to affect Kittiwake populations foraging from the Copinsay SPA.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, and the potential importance of the DPO to foraging Kittiwake the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE3 is considered to be minor to major negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE3 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE3 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE3.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE3.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE3 is entirely beyond 15 km of the nearest landfall at Duncansby Head. The coastlines facing the DPO are populated by a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO which is bordered by key routes on both the north, east and west boundaries.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE3 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE3 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes, such as those to the north, east and west of the DPO.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 59% of the DPO, spatial planning in NE3 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development. In addition, there is potential for diversion of the majority of the traffic around NE3 with limited effect on mileage or time.

Due to the close proximity of multiple key routes the residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE3 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within NE3 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE3 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE3 are sandy throughout with a small area of rock towards the western boundary.

NE3 is a significant distance (greater than 15 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE3, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE3 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE3, the majority of which are of good condition, with the exception of Mull Head to Old Head water body east of the Orkney Islands which is high condition.

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE3, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE3.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE3 to affect the sediment transport in the region and on coastal processes. In addition, the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE3 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE3. There no known shipwrecks within NE3.

The area and coastline inshore of NE3 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for any currently unknown shipwrecks within NE3 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE3 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE3 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE3 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE3 is located beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE3 has the potential to affect landscape / seascapes.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. Development within NE3 may also require the assessment and management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

NE4

NE4

Total DPO Area: 440 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (45%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE4 is sand and course sediment throughout. There are no known sensitive species within or landwards of the DPO.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE4 is low to moderate overall albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There are known populations of harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin within the moray firth which have the potential to be found within NE4. In addition, the proposed NCMPA at Southern trench is proposed for designation for minke whale. There is also potential usage of the DPO grey seal associated with foraging from haul out sites and breeding colonies in the Orkney Islands and Dornoch Firth.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE4 is generally high. Additionally, there are important populations of sensitive species, including a number of species identified as features within the East Caithness Cliffs SPA, some of which are likely to forage within NE4.

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE4. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE4 there are known spawning areas for sandeel. In addition there are nursery grounds for herring, cod, whiting and anglerfish, all of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE4 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative in NE4.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Risks to spawning fish can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activity to avoid key spawning times.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE4, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO, which has the potential to affect bird populations foraging from the East Caithness Cliffs SPA.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, and the potential importance of the DPO to foraging species the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE4 is considered to be minor negative to major negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE4 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE4 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE4.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE4.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE4 is entirely beyond 15 km of the nearest landfall. The coastlines facing the DPO are populated by a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a high level of shipping throughout the DPO which is a key route across the Moray Firth and forms part of the route around Scotland.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE4 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE4 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes, such as within NE4.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, high density traffic throughout the DPO, and any development is likely to concentrate this traffic and hence increase navigational risk. Based on development of 45% of the DPO, there is very limited spatial planning in NE4 which could be applied to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development.

Due to the intersection of the DPO by a key navigational route the residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE4 for offshore wind is considered to be moderate negative to major negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within NE4 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE4 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE4 are sand and course sediment throughout.

NE4 is a significant distance (greater than 15 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE4, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE4 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE4, all of which are of good condition.

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE4, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE4.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE4 to affect the sediment transport in the region and on coastal processes. In addition, the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which should include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE4 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE4. There are 10 known shipwrecks within NE4.

The area and coastline inshore of NE4 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE4 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE4 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE4 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE4 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE4 is located beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines, however larger turbines are likely to be visible.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE4 has the potential to be visible from land and hence affect landscape / seascapes.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. Development within NE4 may also require the assessment and management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

NE5

NE5

Total DPO Area: 496 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (40%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE5 is sand and course sediment throughout. There are records of Ocean Quahog, a priority marine feature which overlap with NE5 in small numbers.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE5 is moderate overall. However, there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There are known populations of harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin within the moray firth which have the potential to be found within NE5. In addition, the proposed NCMPA at Southern trench is proposed for designation for minke whale. There is also potential usage of the DPO grey seal associated with foraging from haul out sites and breeding colonies in Dornoch Firth.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE5 is generally high. Additionally, there are important populations of sensitive species, including a number of species identified as features within the East Caithness Cliffs SPA, some of which are likely to forage within NE5.

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE5. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE5 there are known spawning areas for sandeel. In addition there are nursery grounds for herring, cod, whiting and anglerfish, all of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE5 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative in NE5.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Risks to spawning fish can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activity to avoid key spawning times.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE5, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO, which has the potential to affect bird populations foraging from the East Caithness Cliffs SPA.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, and the potential importance of the DPO to foraging species the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE5 is considered to be minor negative to major negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE5 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE5 is considered to be negligible, but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE5.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE5.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE5 is entirely beyond 15 km of the nearest landfall. The coastlines facing the DPO are populated by a few small settlements.

Areas within the DPO are used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, much of which is associated with traffic transiting to the Beatrice Wind Farm.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE5 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE5 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 40% of the DPO, some spatial planning in NE5 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development. There is, however, high density traffic throughout the DPO, and any development is likely to concentrate this traffic and hence increase navigational risk.

Due to the intersection of the DPO by a key navigational route the residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE8 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within NE5 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE5 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE5 are sand and coarse sediment throughout.

NE5 is a significant distance (greater than 15 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE5, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE5 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE5, all of which are of good condition.

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE5, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE5.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE5 to affect the sediment transport in the region and on coastal processes. In addition, the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which should include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE5 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE5. There are 10 known shipwrecks within NE5.

The area and coastline inshore of NE5 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE5 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE5 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE5 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE5 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE5 is located beyond 15 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE5 has the potential to be visible from land and hence affect landscape / seascapes.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. Development within NE5 may also require the assessment and management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be minor to moderate negative.

NE6

NE6

Total DPO Area: 699 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (57%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE6 is sandy with a small area of coarse sediment in the centre.

There are areas of designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, with the Moray Firth SAC designated for subtidal sandbanks and the proposed NCMPA at southern trench identifying burrowed mud as a feature.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE6 is low to moderate albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There is potential for grey seal within NE6, associated with foraging from haul out sites and breeding colonies in the Orkney Islands and Dornoch Firth. There are sites designated for seals, bottlenose dolphins and otter inshore of the DPO (Moray Firth and Dornoch Firth and Morrich More SACs). In addition, the proposed NCMPA at southern trench includes minke whale as a feature.

It is not expected there would be significant usage of the DPO area by marine mammals from the protected areas, however there is potential for effects from cable landfalls.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE6 is generally high. Additionally, there are important populations of sensitive species, including a number of species identified as features within the East Caithness Cliffs SPA, some of which are likely to forage within NE6.

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE6. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE6 there are known nursery grounds for herring, cod, whiting and anglerfish, both of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE6 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in NE6 based on the likely presence of priority marine features within the DPO.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty..

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE6, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO, which has the potential to affect bird populations foraging from the East Caithness Cliffs SPA.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE6 is considered to be minor negative to major negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE6 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats.

However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE6 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE6.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE6.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE6 is located offshore, beyond approximately 40 km from the nearest coastline.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a high level of shipping within NE6, principally associated with important ferry routes and vessels departing or arriving into Aberdeen / Peterhead to / from the North Sea.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE6 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE6 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 57% of the DPO, some spatial planning in NE6 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development, however this is unlikely to fully mitigate the effect.

Due to the intersection of the DPO by a key navigational route the residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE6 for offshore wind is considered to be moderate negative to major negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 2 GW of capacity within NE6 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE6 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE6 is sandy with a small area of course sediment in the centre.

NE6 is a significant distance (greater than 40 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE6, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >40 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE6 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE6; Cairnbulg Point to the Ugie Estuary (high condition), Rosehearty to Cairnbilg Point (good condition), Macduf to Rosehearty (good condition).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE6, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE6.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE6 to affect the sediment transport in the region, however this is considered unlikely to subsequently to affect coastal processes due to the distance of the DPO from the coastline, although the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >40 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE6 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE6. There are 7 known shipwrecks within NE6.

The area and coastline inshore of NE6 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE6 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE6 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE6 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE6 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE6 is entirely beyond 40 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE6 is not considered to affect Landscape, Seascapes or Visual Amenity

The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible, due to its distance from land.

NE7

NE7

Total DPO Area: 1027 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 3 GW (58%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE7 is sand and mud throughout. This includes overlap with areas which support ocean quahog and potential for burrowed mud, both priority marine features.

There are areas of designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, with the Moray Firth SAC designated for subtidal sandbanks and the proposed NCMPA at southern trench identifying burrowed mud as a feature.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE7 is low overall, due to the offshore nature of the site albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion, as data is not necessarily corrected for effort bias, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There is some potential for grey seal within NE7, however this is at a low level. There are sites designated for seals, bottlenose dolphins and otter inshore of the DPO (Moray Firth and Dornoch Firth and Morrich More SACs). In addition the proposed NCMPA at southern trench includes minke whale as a feature.

It is not expected there would be significant usage of the DPO area by marine mammals from the protected areas, however there is potential for effects from cable landfalls.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE7 is low, with limited numbers of species foraging as far offshore, and in such water depths.

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE7. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE7 there are known nursery grounds for whiting and anglerfish, both of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE7 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in NE7 based on the likely presence of priority marine features within the DPO.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE7, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. However, NE7 is not identified as a key foraging area.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE7 is considered to be minor to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE7 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE7 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE7.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE7.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE7 is located offshore, beyond approximately 75 km from the nearest coastline.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, principally associated with vessels departing or arriving into Aberdeen / Peterhead to / from the North Sea.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE7 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE7 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 53% of the DPO, spatial planning in NE7 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development. In addition, there is potential for diversion of the majority of the traffic around NE7 with limited effect on mileage or time.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE7 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within NE7 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE7 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE7 are sand and mud throughout.

NE7 is a significant distance (greater than 75 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE7, and associated export cables and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >75 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE7 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE7, the majority of which are of good condition, with the exception of Cairnbulg Point to the Ugie Estuary which is high condition.

Effects on ecological status.

The development of offshore wind farms within NE7, and associated export cables and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE7.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE7, and associated export cables and landfall, to affect the sediment transport in the region, however this is considered unlikely to subsequently to affect coastal processes due to the distance of the DPO from the coastline, although the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >75 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE7 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE7. There are 5 known shipwrecks within NE7.

The area and coastline inshore of NE7 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE7 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE7 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE7 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE7 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE7 is entirely beyond 75 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE7 is not considered to affect act Landscape, Seascapes or Visual Amenity

No effect

NE8

NE8

Total DPO Area: 401 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (50%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in NE8 is sand and mud throughout. This includes overlap with areas which support ocean quahog and potential for burrowed mud, both priority marine features.

There are areas of designated sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, with the Moray Firth SAC designated for subtidal sandbanks and the proposed NCMPA at southern trench identifying burrowed mud as a feature.

Marine Mammals

Cetacean density within NE8 is low overall, due to the offshore nature of the site albeit there is a degree of uncertainty in this conclusion as data is not necessarily corrected for effort bias, and therefore further development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment. There is some potential for grey seal within NE8, however this is at a low level. There are sites designated for seals, bottlenose dolphins and otter inshore of the DPO (Moray Firth and Dornoch Firth and Morrich More SACs). In addition the proposed NCMPA at southern trench includes minke whale as a feature.

It is not expected there would be significant usage of the DPO area by marine mammals from the protected areas, however there is potential for effects from cable landfalls.

Birds

Bird usage of the area within NE8 is low, with limited numbers of species foraging as far offshore, and in such water depths.

There are some migration routes for a range of bird species which have the potential to intersect NE8. These routes are generally for species migrating between the UK and Scandinavia.

Fish

Within NE8 there are known nursery grounds for whiting and anglerfish, both of which have wide ranging nursery grounds across Scottish waters.

There are also migratory fish which have the potential to transit through the area on transit to UK rivers.

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of NE8 associated with export cables and cable landfalls.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in NE8 based on the likely presence of priority marine features within the DPO.

Effects on key receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, by which it prevents the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effect of windfarms on migrating birds in the North East region, however it is recognised that concerns regarding bird capacity in the East region have the potential to be applicable here.

There is collision risk associated with bird species using the DPO area. However, current research suggests that it is more likely that birds will be displaced from the region.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species, however current evidence suggests that the effect through this pathway may be low for the majority of species. To determine the potential risk to bird species within NE8, survey and radar studies should be considered at a project level, both before and after construction.

There is potential for displacement of bird species and marine species outwith the DPO. However, NE8 is not identified as a key foraging area.

Based on uncertainty regarding the effect of wind farms in the North East region on migrating and resident bird populations, the residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in NE8 is considered to be minor to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within NE8 which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in NE8 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within NE8.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within NE8.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

NE8 is located offshore, beyond approximately 70 km from the nearest coastline.

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping and fishing. There is a moderate level of shipping throughout the DPO, principally associated with vessels departing or arriving into Aberdeen / Peterhead to / from the North Sea.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

NE8 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

NE8 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind developments.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At a project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development appropriately.

It is likely that, based on development of 46% of the DPO, spatial planning in NE8 could be used to reduce effects on key routes and allow safe transit through the development. In addition, there is potential for diversion of the majority of the traffic around NE8 with limited effect on mileage or time.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of NE8 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 2 GW of capacity within NE8 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in NE8 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in NE8 are sand and mud throughout.

NE8 is a significant distance (greater than 70 km) from coastlines that have the potential to be affected by changes to sediment transport associated with any development in the DPO.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE8, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport around the site.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >70 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

NE8 does not directly overlap with any water bodies. There are, however, a number of water bodies inshore of NE8, the majority of which are of good condition, with the exception of Cairnbulg Point to the Ugie Estuary which is high condition.

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within NE8, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally due to the installation of the export cables. Any changes to the natural condition of the water bodies have the potential to affect the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within NE8.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in NE8 to affect the sediment transport in the region, however this is considered unlikely to subsequently to affect coastal processes due to the distance of the DPO from the coastline, although the effects of export cables and cable landfall should be considered at a project level.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design. Appropriate assessment will be required to determine potential effects, which may include hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling. The distance of the DPO from the land will reduce the potential effects on coastal processes (the DPO is entirely >70 km from the shoreline).

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in NE8 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to NE8. There are 7 known shipwrecks within NE8.

The area and coastline inshore of NE8 has a number of protected sites, including scheduled monuments and coastal built heritage.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within NE8 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, historic MPAs, coastal built heritage, shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of NE8 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within NE8 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within NE8 survey data will be obtained, this will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO or associated with cable planning that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

NE8 is entirely beyond 70 km from inhabited shorelines.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in NE8 is not considered to affect Landscape, Seascapes or Visual Amenity

No effect

C.5 East

E1

E1

Total DPO Area: 3816 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 3 GW (16%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in E1 is sandy sediment. There is no sensitive (priority marine feature) habitat identified within E1.

There are sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including those associated with the River Tay SAC and Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC.

There are also two NCMPAs inshore of E1, one of which (Firth of Forth Banks Complex, designated for ocean quahog and benthic habitats) overlaps slightly with the western corner.

Marine Mammals

There are known populations of harbour seal in the Firth of Forth and grey seals in the River Tay and Lindisfarne Nature Reserve. Grey seals forage further offshore, meaning they are considerably more likely to interact with E1.

Data indicates that there are generally low to moderate densities of cetaceans within E1 including records of whitebeaked dolphin, minke whale and harbour porpoise. However, there is some uncertainty in the data, and therefore development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment.

Birds

There are a number of important bird populations within the Firth of Forth, River Tay and to the north and south of Aberdeen, including SPA and pSPA designations. Species of particular importance include the Herring Gull, Shag, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Sandwich tern, Puffin, Fulmar, Guillemot and Cormorant.

In addition, there are a number of migration routes of both seabird, waterbird and terrestrial bird species on the east coast of Scotland.

The offshore nature of E1 means that it is in an area of lower recorded bird activity.

Fish

Within E1 there are known spawning and nursery grounds for several species. This includes spawning grounds for This includes spawning grounds for cod, whiting, plaice, herring and sandeel.

There are a number of migratory fish which migrate through the seas within the East region into the estuary and riverine environments, including Atlantic salmon and sea lamprey

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables. There is no identified habitat of particular sensitivity within E1 which would be affected by this pathway, however the sandy sediments may be of importance for fish spawning.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of E1 associated with export cables and cable landfalls. This includes potential effects on the habitats designated for the River Tay SAC and Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. Benthic habitats associated with the Firth of Forth Banks complex NCMPA have the potential to be affected by development, this will require assessment at a project level and can be mitigated through spatial planning.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in E1.

Effects on key mobile receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement.

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, preventing the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

The site is adjacent to SPAs and pSPAs in the Firth of Forth and River Tay, and therefore potential for displacement of designated species exists. However, the boundary of the pSPA is inland of E1 and areas outwith the pSPA are therefore expected to be of lower density and hence importance for foraging.

Effects on fish (particularly species using the DPO for spawning) can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activities.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species. There is uncertainty regarding available room for further development in E1 due to the birds that are present. Additional studies and surveys should be undertaken at a project level to determine the potential risk in E1 prior to the consenting process.

There is potential for displacement of bird species. E1 and the immediate surrounding area is identified as a foraging ground for species of international or national importance and spatial planning would have to be used to reduce the potential for barrier effects on birds and other marine species.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in E1 is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within SW1, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in E1 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within E1.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within E1.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

Due to the offshore nature of the E1 DPO there are no significant populations directly adjacent to the DPO. The coastline landwards of E1 is generally highly populated, with a number of big cities and towns (Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Dundee).

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping. Shipping traffic within the DPO is generally low to moderate with the highest density traffic in the western sector of the DPO. There are no key routes which intersect the DPO

Recreational boating and recreational angling do not take place in the DPO due to its offshore nature.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

SW1 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

E1 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind development.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At the project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development.

It is likely that, based on development of 16% of the DPO area, spatial planning in E1 could be used to reduce effects on higher shipping density areas and allow safe transit.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of E1 for offshore wind is considered to be negligible negative to minor negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within E1 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in E1 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in E1 are sandy.

The coastline facing E1 is a mixture of soft coastline (subject to erosion), beaches, hard rock / cliff, hard defences and harbours.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in E1, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on marine geology and coastal processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are a number of coastal water bodies inland of E1, Don Estuary to Scouter Head (Good quality), Scouter Head to Garron Point (High quality), Garron Point to Downie Point (Good quality), Downie Point to Big Rob's Cove (High quality).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within E1, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime. Any changes to the natural condition of the Solway Firth Offshore water body have the potential to reduce the status of the water body.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within E1.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in E1 to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design, therefore it is expected that hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling would be required at a project level to determine the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in E1 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to E1. There are 10 known shipwrecks within E1.

The coastline inshore of SW1 has a number of protected sites.

There is potential for palaeolandscape to be present in the Firth of Forth and River Tay, particularly around the estuary margins, and therefore potential for submerged archaeological remains.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within E1 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of E1 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Submerged archaeological remains inshore of E1 associated with palaeolandscape also have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within E1 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within E1, survey data will be obtained. This will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

0% of E1 is within 15 km of the coastline.

The nearest point of E1 is 50km offshore, therefore there is no effect on visual amenity.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind farms in E1 is not considered to affect landscape, seascape or visual amenity.

No effect

E2

E2

Total DPO Area: 1287 km²
Realistic Maximum Development Scenario (% of Total Capacity): 2 GW (31%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in E2 is mostly sandy sediment, with areas of coarse sediment to the west. There is no sensitive (priority marine feature) habitat identified within E2.

There are sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including those associated with the River Tay SAC and Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC.

Marine Mammals

There are known populations of harbour seal in the Firth of Forth and grey seals in the River Tay and Lindisfarne Nature Reserve. Grey seals forage further offshore, meaning they are considerably more likely to interact with E2. The west section of E2 overlaps with an area of higher sea usage by grey seals.

Data indicates that there are generally low to moderate densities of cetaceans within E2 including records of whitebeaked dolphin and harbour porpoise. However, there is some uncertainty in the data, and therefore development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment.

Birds

There are a number of important bird populations within the Firth of Forth, River Tay and to the north and south of Aberdeen, including SPA and pSPA designations. Species of particular importance include the Herring Gull, Shag, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Sandwich tern, Puffin, Fulmar, Guillemot and Cormorant.

In addition, there are a number of migration routes of both seabird, waterbird and terrestrial bird species on the east coast of Scotland.

The offshore nature of E2 means that it is in an area of lower recorded bird activity.

Fish

Within E2 there are known spawning and nursery grounds for several species. This includes spawning grounds for cod, whiting, plaice, herring and sandeel.

There is one NCMPA overlapping with the western end of the E2, Turbot Bank NCMPA, which is designated for Sandeel.

There are a number of migratory fish which migrate through the seas within the East region into the estuary and riverine environments, including Atlantic salmon and sea lamprey

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables. There is no identified habitat of particular sensitivity within E2 which would be affected by this pathway, however the sandy sediments may be of importance for fish spawning.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of E2 associated with export cables and cable landfalls. This includes potential effects on the habitats designated for the River Tay SAC and Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. There are no particularly sensitive habitats which will be affected in E2.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in E2.

Effects on key mobile receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement.

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, preventing the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

The site is adjacent to SPAs and pSPAs in the Firth of Forth and River Tay, and therefore potential for displacement of designated species exists. However, the boundary of the pSPA is inland of E2 and areas outwith the pSPA are therefore expected to be of lower density and hence importance for foraging.

Effects on fish (particularly species using the DPO for spawning) can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activities.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Effects on Sandeel protected through the Turbot Bank NCMPA will be assessed at a project level and can be mitigated through spatial planning.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species. There is uncertainty as to the room for further development in E2 due to the birds that are present. Additional studies and surveys should be undertaken at a project level to determine the potential risk in E2 prior to the consenting process.

There is potential for displacement of bird species. E2 and the immediate surrounding area is identified as a foraging ground for species of international or national importance and spatial planning would have to be used to reduce the potential for barrier effects on birds and other marine species.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in E2 is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within E2, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in E2 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within E2.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within E2.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

Due to the offshore nature of the E2 DPO there are no significant populations directly adjacent to the DPO. The coastline landwards of E2 is generally highly populated, with a number of big cities and towns (Aberdeen, Peterhead)

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping. There is moderate shipping density throughout the DPO with areas of high density to the west associated principally with oil and gas servicing.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

E2 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

E2 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind development.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At the project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development.

It is likely that, based on development of 31% of the DPO area, some spatial planning in E2 could be used to reduce effects on key shipping routes and allow safe transit.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of E2 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to moderate negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within E2 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in E2 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in E2 are mostly sandy, with an area of coarse sediment to the west.

The coastline facing E2 is a mixture of hard rock / cliff, natural beaches and harbours.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in E2, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on marine geology and coastal processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are a number of coastal water bodies inland of E2, Caimbulg Point to the Ugie Estuary (High quality), Ugie Estuary to Buchan Ness (Good quality), Buchan Ness to Cruden Bay (High quality), Cruden Bay to the Don Estuary (High quality).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within E2, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within E2.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in E2 to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design, therefore it is expected that hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling would be required at a project level to determine the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in E2 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to E2. There are two known shipwrecks within E2.

The coastline inshore of E2 has a number of protected sites.

There is potential for palaeolandscape to be present in the Firth of Forth and River Tay, particularly around the estuary margins, and therefore potential for submerged archaeological remains.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within E2 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of E2 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Submerged archaeological remains inshore of E2 associated with palaeolandscape also have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within E2 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within E2, survey data will be obtained. This will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

0% of E2 is within 15 km of the coastline.

The nearest point of E1 is 60km offshore, therefore there is no effect on visual amenity.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind farms in E2 is not considered to affect landscape, seascape or visual amenity.

No effect

E3

E3

Total DPO Area: 474 km²
Maximum Likely Development Capacity (% of Total Capacity): 1 GW (42%)

SEA Topic

Key Baseline Evidence

Potential Effects

Characteristics

Mitigation Available and Potential Residual Effects

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna (Marine Mammals)

Benthic Habitats and Species

The benthic habitat in E3 is mostly coarse sediment with areas of sand in the south west. There is no sensitive (priority marine feature) habitat identified within E3.

There are sensitive habitats inshore of the DPO, including those associated with the River Tay SAC and Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC.

Marine Mammals

There are known populations of harbour seal in the Firth of Forth and grey seals in the River Tay and Lindisfarne Nature Reserve. Grey seals forage further offshore, meaning they are considerably more likely to interact with E3. A large proportion of E3 overlaps with an area of higher sea usage by grey seals. There are three NCMPAs within close proximity to E3.

Data indicates that there are generally low to moderate densities of cetaceans within E3 including records of whitebeaked dolphin, minke whale and harbour porpoise. However, there is some uncertainty in the data, and therefore development of the baseline through survey will be required prior to project level assessment.

Birds

There are a number of important bird populations within the Firth of Forth, River Tay and to the north and south of Aberdeen, including SPA and pSPA designations. Species of particular importance include the Herring Gull, Shag, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Sandwich tern, Puffin, Fulmar, Guillemot and Cormorant.

In addition, there are a number of migration routes of both seabird, waterbird and terrestrial bird species on the east coast of Scotland.

The offshore nature of E3 means that it is in an area of lower recorded bird activity.

Fish

Within E3 there are known spawning and nursery grounds for several species. This includes spawning grounds for cod, whiting, plaice, herring and sandeel.

There are a number of migratory fish which migrate through the seas within the East region into the estuary and riverine environments, including Atlantic salmon and sea lamprey

Loss of and/or damage to marine and coastal habitats, including benthic and intertidal habitats (for example, due to smothering of benthic habitats and substratum loss).

There is potential for permanent loss of habitat within the footprint of offshore wind turbines and associated scour protection and temporary damage to habitats from intra array cables. There is no identified habitat of particular sensitivity within E3 which would be affected by this pathway, however the sandy sediments may be of importance for fish spawning.

There is also potential for effects on coastal habitats inshore of E3 associated with export cables and cable landfalls. This includes potential effects on the habitats designated for the River Tay SAC and Berwickshire and North Northumberland SAC.

The footprint associated with offshore wind will be dependent on the technology used and the level of scour protection required. There are no particularly sensitive habitats which will be affected in E3.

Effects on coastal habitats associated with export cable routes and cable landfall will be considered at a project level and can be mitigated through careful siting.

The residual effect on habitat is therefore considered to be minor negative in E3.

Effects on key mobile receptors and prey species, including disturbance, noise effects, EMF exposure, collision risk, habitat exclusion, and barriers to wildlife movement.

There is potential for disturbance of marine mammal, bird and fish species particularly due to noise emissions during construction from piling activities, survey and / or clearance of unexploded ordnance. These have the potential to cause physiological damage to fish and marine mammal species, and to cause displacement of fish, marine mammals and birds from the area of effect.

Potential for effects to mammals and fish are lower during the operational and decommissioning phases of the offshore wind farm life cycle. There is, however, potential for effects on fish species, from EMF exposure associated with export cables. The consequences of such effects are not well understood, however are thought to be low.

The introduction of offshore wind arrays may also cause a barrier effect, preventing the movement of species through the area, potentially affecting migration pathways for marine mammals, fish species and birds.

The site is adjacent to SPAs and pSPAs in the Firth of Forth and River Tay, and therefore potential for displacement of designated species exists. However, the boundary of the pSPA is inland of E3 and areas outwith the pSPA are therefore expected to be of lower density and hence importance for foraging.

Effects on fish (particularly species using the DPO for spawning) can be mitigated through temporal restrictions on piling activities.

Physiological risks to fish and marine mammals from piling noise can be mitigated through the application measures relating to piling activities or soft start procedures, although fish responses to these measures are not well known and noise modelling should account for this uncertainty.

In addition, noise abatement measures at source can be implemented to reduce noise transmission into the wider environment, and therefore reduce displacement effects.

Further research is required to determine the effect of collision risk on bird species. However, the current consensus is that there is no room for further development in E3 due to the birds that are present. Should the consensus change in the future radar studies and surveys should be undertaken at a project level to determine the potential risk in E3.

There is potential for displacement of bird species. E3 and the immediate surrounding area is identified as a key foraging ground for species of international or national importance and spatial planning would have to be used to reduce the potential for barrier effects on birds and other marine species.

The residual effect on key receptors during construction and operation in E3 is considered to be moderate negative to major negative.

Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity. Effects arising from habitat modification, such as the creation of artificial reefs, new roosting structures and exclusion of habitat damaging activity.

The introduction of the wind farm turbines and scour protection have the potential to provide alternative habitat within E3, which could provide shelter for juvenile fish and crustacean shellfish. This effect has the potential to be both beneficial and adverse for different receptors.

There is also the potential for activities currently damaging to the seabed habitat to be excluded from offshore wind development area, dependent on the technology implemented, which may lead to reduced damage to existing habitats. However, if activity is displaced to a different area the effect is likely to be negligible or potentially negative.

The potential effect associated with the development of offshore wind in E3 is considered to be negligible but is dependent on the technology deployed.

Effects of pollution releases on species and habitats.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect species within E3.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual risk associated with pollution releases associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be negligible.

Effects from introduction and spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).

Offshore wind turbine foundations and scour protection provides a new colonising surface for INNS, and support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to introduce INNS, which may subsequently affect indigenous species within E3.

There is a requirement for biosecurity management plans to be produced to minimise the risk of introduction of INNS. Controls will be imposed through the marine licencing process if required at a project level.

The residual risk associated with INNS associated with offshore wind farms is considered to be minor negative.

Population and Human Health

Due to the offshore nature of the E3 DPO there are no significant populations directly adjacent to the DPO. The coastline landwards of E3 is generally highly populated, with a number of cities and towns (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Peterhead).

Areas within the DPO are, however, used for the purposes of commercial shipping. There is a moderate to high density of shipping throughout the DPO, with some overlap with key routes on the northern and south western boundaries. There is also an overlap with a RYA informal cruising route towards the western boundary of the site.

Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker effects from all phases of development.

E3 is located offshore, and as such construction, operation and decommissioning of arrays within the DPO will not give rise to significant effects on populations or human health directly through noise, vibration, light, dust or shadow flicker effects.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Effects on residential amenity stemming from construction/installation/operational activities.

E3 is located offshore, and as such the development will not directly affect residential amenity.

Socio-economic impacts are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Issues of navigational safety, aviation and collision risk.

The presence of the offshore wind turbines increases the potential for collisions between recreational or commercial vessels and offshore wind development.

This risk is greater where the offshore wind array overlaps key navigational routes.

At the project level and as part of the EIA process there is a requirement for developers to undertake a navigational risk assessment and mitigate risks to navigation from development.

It is likely that, based on development of 42% of the DPO area, some spatial planning in E3 could be used to reduce effects on key shipping routes and allow safe transit.

The residual effect on navigational safety associated with the development of E3 for offshore wind is considered to be minor negative to major negative dependent on the spatial planning and turbine design of development.

Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access

Socio-economic impacts, such as the displacement of activity, are considered separately to this assessment within the SEIA, however effects on navigational safety of recreational activity associated with the development of the DPO are considered above.

There is potential for construction activity associated with export cables and cable landfalls to affect populations, however effects are likely to be highly localised and temporary.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding potential cable landfall locations, therefore the effects on human health / populations cannot be assessed. This assessment will be undertaken at a project level, with any onshore components managed through the terrestrial planning permission process.

Development of a secure energy supply.

The development of 1 GW of capacity within E3 could contribute to the development of secure energy supply in the UK.

The potential benefit to UK energy security associated with the development of offshore wind in E3 is considered to be moderate to major positive.

Soil (namely, Marine Geology and Coastal Processes)

The seabed sediments in E3 are mostly coarse sediment, with small areas of sand in the south.

The coastline facing E3 is hard rock / cliff and natural beaches.

Effects on subsea geology, sediments, and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and the existing wave regime.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in E3, and associated export cable routes and landfall, to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the array design. Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling will be required at a project level to confirm and validate the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on marine geology and coastal processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Water Quality

Ecological status is determined for each of the surface water bodies of rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters, based on biological quality elements and supported by physico-chemical and hydromorphological quality elements.

There are a few coastal water bodies inland of E3, Curden Bay to the Don Estuary (Good quality), Don Estuary to Scouter Head (Good quality), Scouter Head to Garron Point (High quality).

Effects on ecological status.

Offshore wind development within E3, and associated export cable routes and landfall, has the potential to affect the ecological status of the water bodies, principally through changes caused to the hydrological regime.

In addition, any direct effects on features, including those within protected areas, have the potential to affect the WFD ecological status.

As part of the marine licencing process requirements are placed onto developers to ensure that activities are appropriately mitigated such that they do not cause permanent degradation of the ecological status under the WFD.

The residual effect on ecological status is considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Effects on water quality (for example, due to increases in suspended sediment loads and turbidity as well as an increase in pollution incidents).

Effects associated with any contamination from seabed material resuspended during construction or decommissioning activity are likely to be of localised and temporary nature, with the level of effect dependant on the level of contamination within the sediment. Effects during operation and maintenance are considered less likely.

Pollution events associated with support vessels during construction and operational phases have the potential to affect water quality within E3.

Where an activity is expected to cause a significant disturbance of the seabed sediment additional contamination testing and subsequent water monitoring could be required through the marine licencing process.

As part of marine licencing there is a requirement to produce pollution management plans to mitigate the effects of any pollution releases. In addition, significant releases are only likely to be associated with emergency events, considered unlikely. The assessment and management of pollution risks will be undertaken at a project level.

The residual effect is considered to be minor negative.

Effects of the presence of structures on local currents, wave regimes, and water column mixing, as well as secondary effects on sedimentation and erosion beyond the sites.

There is potential for changes to hydrodynamics caused by the development of offshore wind in E3 to affect the sediment transport and coastal processes.

The extent of the effects will be dependent on the design of the array, the technology deployed in the DPO, the cable route, landfall location and cable design.

There is uncertainty as to the likely technology to be deployed in the DPO, and the likely array design, therefore it is expected that hydrodynamic and sediment transport modelling would be required at a project level to determine the potential effects on the seabed sediments and coastal processes.

The residual effect on seabed sediment and physical processes is highly dependent on the technology type and array design but is considered likely to be negligible to minor negative.

Climatic Factors

The key pressures on the climate are derived from the continued global emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. These emissions are recognised as leading to changes in the global climate (including changes in temperatures, precipitation, storm density) in turn causing changes in the physical characteristics of the oceans, including potential changes in sea temperatures, circulation, salinity, pH and sea level rise.

Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

The development of offshore wind energy in E3 can contribute to a decarbonised energy sector, reducing carbon emissions.

The effect of development of offshore wind in the DPO has the potential to be moderate to major positive in contributing to a diverse and decarbonised energy sector.

Coastal facilities may be at risk from climate change.

Facilities associated with offshore wind infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise and coastal erosion associated with climatic factors.

The design of any coastal facilities is required to account for sea level rise and coastal erosion in the design process. This is considered as part of the planning process at a project level.

Cultural Heritage

There are no Historic MPAs within or adjacent to SW1. There are three known shipwrecks within E3.

The coastline inshore of E3 has a number of protected sites.

There is potential for palaeolandscape to be present in the River Tavy and Firth of Forth, particularly around the estuary margins, and therefore potential for submerged archaeological remains.

Loss of and/or damage to historic environment features and their settings, including coastal and marine archaeology and historic MPAs.

There is potential for shipwrecks within E3 to be affected by development, principally during the construction phase.

In addition, coastal built heritage, coastal shipwrecks and scheduled monuments inshore of E3 have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Submerged archaeological remains inshore of E3 associated with palaeolandscape also have the potential to be affected by export cable routes and cable landfalls.

Effects on culturally important sites can be mitigated through careful spatial planning within E3 and through selection of appropriate cable export routes and landfall locations.

As part of the design and planning process for any development within E3, survey data will be obtained. This will identify any areas of cultural or historical sensitivity within the DPO that should be avoided and therefore inform spatial planning.

Based on the use of appropriate spatial planning, the residual effect on cultural heritage is therefore considered to be negligible to minor negative.

Landscape, Seascape, and Visual Amenity

0% of E3 is within 15 km of the coastline.

The nearest point of E3 is 18km offshore.

Both temporary and longer-term effects on landscape and coastal character and visual receptors arising from the presence of structures including any ancillary infrastructure and night-time lighting of offshore structures.

The development of offshore wind in E3 has the potential to be visible from land and hence affect landscape / seascapes.

There is potential to mitigate visual effects through spatial planning within the DPO to avoid areas closest to land, and through the potential to select smaller turbines in areas of higher sensitivity. The development within E3 may also require management of night-time lighting effects. The residual effect on landscape / seascape is considered to be negligible to minor negative.


Contact

Email: drew.milne@gov.scot