Publication - Consultation paper

Offshore wind energy: draft sectoral marine plan

Published: 18 Dec 2019
Directorate:
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Energy, Marine and fisheries
ISBN:
9781839603747

The Plan aims to identify the most sustainable plan options for the future development of commercial-scale offshore wind energy in Scotland.

74 page PDF

2.9 MB

74 page PDF

2.9 MB

Contents
Offshore wind energy: draft sectoral marine plan
4. Draft Plan Options

74 page PDF

2.9 MB

4. Draft Plan Options

4.1 National perspective

The draft Plan identifies 17 DPOs across the five regions within Scottish Waters (see Figure 8). As the DPOs are spatially distinct within the five regions, there is limited potential for cumulative negative effects at a national scale. Conversely, there exists the potential for cumulative positive effects, through a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the energy sector in Scotland and the establishment of a secure energy supply.

Regional cumulative effects include the potential for negative effects on bird populations, benthic habitats, cetaceans, navigational safety, seascape/landscape and commercial fisheries. It is recognised that both regionally and nationally, the level of impacts will vary according to which DPOs become the focus of development. The development of multiple DPOs within a region could form a potential barrier for mobile species (such as seabirds, diadromous fish and cetaceans) or result in the diversion of shipping and fishing traffic routes, or concentration of vessel traffic in smaller areas. The North East region, for example, has the largest number of DPOs and, therefore, the scale of potential impacts from this region may be higher and opportunities to mitigate potential impacts may be comparatively more limited.

In line with the conclusions of the SA, HRA, SEA and SEIA, the draft Plan includes measures to mitigate potential impacts at various scales, including the requirement for further spatial planning within individual DPOs and limiting the scale of development under the draft Plan to 10 GW nationally.

The following sections summarise the most significant potential opportunities and constraints that developers will need to overcome in each DPO and region. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all potential impacts which could occur and project-level impacts will need to be identified via further project-level assessment, which will benefit from the further level of detail required.

The SA, SEA and HRA provide a list of suggested project-level mitigation measures, however, these will vary according to the scale, nature and location of the proposed development. The following types of potential impacts have been identified and assessed in the SEA, HRA and SEIA and will require further consideration (in addition to any specific potential impacts appropriate to the proposed development) at a project-level;

  • Loss of/damage to marine and coastal habitats;
  • Effects from pollution releases on species and habitats;
  • Positive effects arising from habitat enhancement and exclusion of habitat damaging activity;
  • Effects on subsea geology, sediments and coastal processes arising from changes in hydrodynamics and existing wave regimes;
  • Issues relating to navigational safety, aviation and collision risk;
  • Effects on marine and coastal recreation and access;
  • Effects on landscape and coastal characters and visual receptors;
  • Contribution to supporting a diverse and decarbonised energy sector;
  • Effects from the introduction and spread of Invasive Non Native Species;
  • Effects on residential amenity;
  • Loss of/damage to historic environment features and their settings;
  • Effects arising from noise, vibration, light, dust and shadow flicker;
  • Effects on water quality; and
  • Effects on ecological status.

Due to the level of uncertainty surrounding potential cable routes to shore, landfall locations and grid connection, a detailed assessment of specific cable routes to shore has not been included in the SA. The SEA, HRA, SEIA and draft RLG assume that any area inshore of a DPO could be utilised as a cable route and identifies areas of higher sensitivity for cable routes and landfall points. Developers are expected to take into consideration sensitive areas at a project-planning level and undertake early engagement with key stakeholders regarding survey requirements, cable routing and burial/protection methods.

Figure 8 Sectoral Marine Plan Regions and DPOs

Figure 8 Sectoral Marine Plan Regions and DPOs

4.2 South West region

The South West region encompasses one DPO (SW1), located in the outer Solway Firth (as shown in Figure 9). The key risk factors to development within the South West region are:

  • potential economic impacts from diverting a key commercial shipping route (and associated navigational risk);
  • community engagement;
  • potential visual impacts and landscape/seascape character impacts;
  • risks to bird species, including collision and displacement risk, as well as potential impacts to birds on migration pathways;
  • Potential impacts on commercial fishing;
  • Potential impacts on marine mammal receptors; and
  • Potential impacts on recreational angling.

At a regional scale, there are limited potential cumulative impacts associated with the DPOs, as there is only one DPO identified in the South West region. The SEA recognises the potential for cumulative effects on bird species with currently installed wind turbines at the Robin Rigg windfarm (174 MW, located further into the Solway Firth). Specifically, concerns around whooper swan migration pathways have previously been raised within the Solway. Cumulative impacts may also occur as a result of development outwith Scottish waters, which will need to be addressed with any project-level assessment.

Figure 9 South West Region DPO

Figure 9 South West Region DPO

4.2.1 SW1

SW1 covers a total area of 292 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 68% of the total area of the DPO). The majority of the DPO is in shallow water (< 60 m), with the exception of some small areas to the west.

Previous proposals for development within this region have been subject to opposition as a result of potential negative seascape, landscape and visual impacts, as well as negative socio-economic impacts relating to commercial fishing, tourism and recreation. Further, concerns regarding the potential level of socio-economic benefit which would accrue to the local community were also raised. It is therefore anticipated that additional and extensive engagement with local stakeholders, to explore the issues and identify possible solutions, would be required at the pre-application stage.

The SEIA recognises that there are potential significant cost impacts arising from potential offshore wind development on commercial shipping, however, there is potential for project-level mitigation to reduce or avoid these impacts.[29] Further consultation will be required with the Ministry of Defence ("MOD") regarding potential impacts on radar and due to the proximity to the Luce Bay Danger Area.

4.2.2 Key actions for the South West Region

In order to progress development in the South West region, the following (non-exhaustive) key steps are likely to form part of the development process:

  • consultation with the fishing community;
  • additional pre-application consultation with stakeholders and communities in Dumfries and Galloway regarding potential socio-economic benefits arising from any development;
  • consultation with stakeholders and communities regarding potential landscape and seascape impacts of any development;
  • pre- and post-consent, and post-construction, bird monitoring;
  • consultation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency regarding navigational safety;
  • benthic survey and subsequent spatial planning to avoid any key habitats and species identified;
  • consultation with SNCBs regarding potential impacts on harbour porpoise from the North Channel SAC between October to March each year;[30] and
  • consultation with MOD regarding Luce Bay Danger Area.

4.3 West Region

The West region encompasses one draft plan option area (W1), located off the coast of Islay (as shown in Figure 10). The key risk factors to development within the West region are:

  • potential visual impacts and landscape/seascape character impacts;
  • potential impacts on marine mammal receptors;
  • risks to bird species, including collision risk and displacement, as well as potential impacts to birds on migratory pathways;
  • potential impacts on benthic habitats and species;
  • potential impacts on commercial fishing; and
  • potential impacts on recreational angling.

Within the West region, there is the potential for tidal energy development in this region and three leases were previously awarded for tidal stream installation (including Isle of Islay, Sound of Islay and Connel), however, none of these sites are currently operational (although consents have been awarded for the Isle of Islay and Sound of Islay sites). These projects may need to be considered within any in-combination assessment. The SEA recognises the potential for cumulative effects on migrating birds with currently installed wind turbines at the Robin Rigg windfarm and other west coast DPOs in the South West and North regions.

Figure 10 West Region DPO

Figure 10 West Region DPO

4.3.1 W1

W1 covers a total area of 1107 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic deployment scenario of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 36% of the total area of the DPO). The majority of the DPO is in shallow water (< 60 m) with the exception of some small areas to the north-west.

The SEIA identifies generally lower socio-economic costs arising from potential offshore wind development within the DPO, with the most significant cost to the recreational angling sector, however, commercial fisheries may also be impacted by development.

There would be the potential for adverse visual impacts and impacts on seascape and landscape character, due to the proximity of the DPO to shore, particularly the south eastern part of the DPO, however, these impacts may be reduced or avoided via project-level mitigation measures. The western part of the DPO is located close to a shipping route and project-level mitigation measures may be required to address potential impacts on commercial shipping and navigational safety.

Consultation would be required with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) regarding potential offshore safeguarding concerns due to potential Royal Navy activities within W1.

Mitigation to reduce, avoid or offset impacts on marine mammals (including harbour porpoise, basking shark and seals) during construction activities would need to be considered at a project level, given the proximity of W1 to a number of designated and protected sites. Consideration would also need to be given to potential impacts on benthic features (deep sponge communities) located in the north west corner of W1, as well as potential impacts on migratory whooper swans.

4.3.2 Key actions for the West region

In order to progress development in the West region, the following (non-exhaustive) key steps are likely to form part of the development process:

  • consultation with stakeholders in Argyll and Bute regarding landscape and seascape concerns;
  • consultation with MOD regarding potential interaction with Royal Navy activities;
  • pre- and post-consent, and post-construction, bird monitoring;
  • benthic survey and spatial planning to avoid significant effects on benthic PMF receptors; and
  • consultation with the fishing community.

4.4 North region

The North region encompasses four draft plan option areas (N1, N2, N3 and N4) (as shown in Figure 11). The key risk factors to development within the North region are:

  • Potential adverse visual impacts and landscape/seascape character impacts;
  • potential impacts on marine mammal receptors;
  • risks to bird species, including collision risk and displacement, as well as potential impacts to birds on migratory pathways;
  • potential impacts on benthic habitats and species;
  • potential impacts on commercial fishing; and
  • potential impacts on recreational angling.

Within the North region, there is one demonstration wind energy development which still holds a valid consent (Dounreay Tri). In addition, there are a number of tidal and wave devices have been deployed in the waters around Orkney as part of the European Marine Energy Centre ("EMEC") and Phase 1 of the MeyGen tidal array is currently operational in the Pentland Firth. Development across multiple DPOs in this region may result in cumulative impacts on a range of receptors, including migrating birds, cetaceans and landscape/seascape

Figure 11 North Region DPOs

Figure 11 North Region DPOs

Development across multiple DPOs in this region will require careful consideration of cumulative impacts on bird species, particularly focussing on migratory species and flyaways, with increased turbine heights, as well as the consideration of collision risk, displacement and barrier effects to seabird populations. Migration pathways for migratory bird species transiting from the UK towards the Faroe Islands and Iceland intersect DPOs in this region and development within multiple DPOs could result in cumulative barrier effects, increased collision risk and increased energetic requirements for these birds.

Concurrent construction activities in this region could result in significant cumulative impacts on marine mammals, which would need to be considered and mitigated at a project and regional level.

In addition, if development were undertaken at both DPOs N3 and N4 there may be cumulative visual, seascape and landscape impacts (due to the proximity of these DPOs to the coastline and their ability to be seen from the same single viewpoints). These impacts would therefore need further consideration and mitigation at a project-level.

4.4.1 N1

N1 covers a total area of 1163 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 34 % of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO varies, with areas of shallow water (< 60 m) and areas of deeper (60-100 m) water dispersed across the DPO.

The SEIA identifies potential impacts on the commercial shipping sector, which could be reduced or offset via project-level mitigation measures or spatial planning with the DPO. There is also the potential for significant cost impacts associated with the loss of fishing grounds in N1. Key gear types in N1 are demersal trawls and creels. It is recognised that of these the creels may not be displaced in the medium to long term.

The SEA identifies potential effects on bird populations including connectivity with nearby SPAs, such as Sule Skerry and Sule Stack SPA, as well as Orkney SPAs. As such, additional research, spatial planning and consideration of further mitigation at a project level may be required within N1 to avoid areas of key usage for bird species or reduce potential impacts.

4.4.2 N2

N2 covers a total area of 560 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 71% of the total area of the DPO).The water depth across the DPO is generally deeper (60-100 m) water with some areas of deep water (> 100 m) in the west of the DPO.

There is some potential for significant cost impacts associated with the loss of fishing grounds in N2, particularly in relation to demersal trawlers, which are likely to be excluded from the footprint of any offshore wind development.

Consultation would be required with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) regarding potential offshore safeguarding concerns due to Royal Navy activities within N2.

4.4.3 N3

N3 covers a total area of 1106 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 36% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is generally deep (> 100 m) with some small areas of shallower water (< 60 m) in the northeast of the DPO.

The SEIA identifies potential significant cost impacts associated with the loss of fishing grounds in N3. Key gear types in N3 are midwater and demersal trawls which are likely to be excluded from the footprint of any offshore wind development.

Consultation would be required with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) regarding potential radar interference from turbines in N3.

The SEA identifies potential risks associated with bird species foraging in the northeast of the DPO from the North Rona and Sula Sgeir SPA and migrating bird species transiting towards the Faroe Islands and Iceland. To address these risks at a project level, appropriate pre-consent bird surveys, mitigation measure development and post-construction monitoring would be required.

4.4.4 N4

N4 covers a total area of 200 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 100% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is shallow (< 60 m) throughout, with a small area of 60-100 m water depth in the southwest of the DPO.

The SEIA identifies potential cost impacts to recreational angling, tourism and commercial fishing sectors. The presence of N4 close inshore from the recommended deep water route around the Hebrides on a lee shore may also affect navigational safety and these impacts would need to be considered and mitigated at a project-level.

Impacts to the tourism sector are associated with potential visual, landscape and seascape issues, which similarly is the most significant risk identified within the SEA. N4 is located in very inshore waters, and therefore seascape, landscape and visual impacts will occur. Consideration of these impacts would require early consultation with local communities and stakeholders. Potential mitigation measures may be limited, however, consideration could be given to wind farm design and turbine selection, (i.e. the selection of smaller turbines to reduce visual impact).

Further to the potential landscape, seascape and visual impacts, the SEA identifies potential noise impacts to local populations, due to the DPO's close proximity to land, which will need management through early and comprehensive consultation with local stakeholders and communities.

4.4.5 Key actions for the North region

In order to progress development in the North region, the following (non-exhaustive) key steps are likely to form part of the development process. It is recognised that some steps will be more applicable to specific DPOs within the North region:

  • consultation with local stakeholders regarding landscape and seascape concerns; and potential noise impacts on local populations;
  • pre- and post-consent, and post-construction, bird monitoring;
  • consultation with the MOD;
  • consultation with the fishing community; and
  • consultation with the Marine and Coastguard Agency.

4.5 North East Region

The North East region encompasses eight draft plan option areas (NE1, NE2, NE3, NE4, NE5, NE6, NE7 and NE8) (see Figure 12). The key risk factors to development within the North East region are:

  • risks to bird species, including collision risk and displacement, as well as potential impacts to birds on migratory pathways;
  • potential impacts on marine mammal receptors;
  • potential impacts on benthic habitat and species;
  • potential cost impacts and associated navigational risk from diverting key commercial shipping routes; and
  • potential impacts on commercial fishing.

Within the North East region, there is already significant offshore wind development, principally in the Moray Firth, adjacent to DPOs NE4 and NE5, including;

  • Beatrice offshore wind farm (588 MW, operational);
  • Moray East offshore wind farm (950 MW. in construction); and
  • Moray West offshore wind farm (850 MW, consented).

Additionally, there are current marine renewable energy developments in the Orkney and Shetland Islands (including wave and tidal devices deployed as part of EMEC and the Nova Innovation Shetland Tidal Array) which would need to be considered in any in-combination assessments.

Figure 12 North East Region DPOs

Figure 12 North East Region DPOs

Within the North East region, development across multiple DPOs could result in significant cumulative collision risk and displacement impacts on key seabird species. These concerns are detailed in full in the HRA Report and DPOs NE2, NE3, NE4, NE5 and NE6 are therefore classed as being 'DPOs subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint' and require that sufficient scientific evidence, which reduces the level of risk to an acceptable level, is made available. This will, therefore, delay the progression of licence and consent applications within these DPOs, until such time that further evidence, research and knowledge around mitigation is available to support decision-making in this region.

Potentially significant effects on marine mammals could occur during construction activities and further consideration of these impacts would be required at a project-level. In addition, potential cumulative impacts on navigation would need to be considered as a result of development of large areas within the DPOs and these impacts would need to be considered and addressed at a project-level.

There are some areas of overlap with existing oil and gas infrastructure, licensed blocks for oil and gas production and round awards for oil and gas exploration. Further, some DPOs are located inshore of existing and potential oil and gas production areas. There are some areas of overlap with areas awarded under the 29th and 30th oil and gas leasing rounds, however, it is anticipated that activity will have lapsed or concluded prior to offshore wind development commencing.

Where there are areas of spatial overlap, it is assumed that renewable energy development will not be permitted within a given corridor either side of the pipeline/platform (to facilitate maintenance activity on said structures, until such time as any structure(s) are decommissioned). It is also assumed that the cost of any required cable/pipeline crossings with existing infrastructure will be borne by the offshore wind developer.

Further consultation would be required with the oil and gas industry regarding potential interactions between these two sectors.

4.5.1 NE1

NE1 covers a total area of 776 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 52% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is deep throughout (> 100 m).

The SEIA identifies some potential for significant cost impacts associated with the loss of fishing grounds in NE1. Key gear types in NE1 are demersal trawls and mechanical dredges which are likely to be excluded from the footprint of any offshore wind development. Areas within NE1 may be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring, cod and whiting and these risks would need to be addressed by project-level mitigation measures.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE1.

The SEA identifies that NE1 lies adjacent to the Pobie Bank SAC, designated for benthic habitats, therefore, some examples of these benthic features could be present with the DPO. Benthic survey and spatial planning with the DPO would be required to mitigate any potential impacts, including potential impacts associated with sediment smothering or increased scour associated with turbine foundations.

4.5.2 NE2

NE2 covers a total area of 464 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 43% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is between 60 m and 100 m throughout.

Key potential cost impacts arising from development in NE2 are to commercial shipping and power interconnector sectors (due to diversion of routes), which could be mitigated at a project-level.

The SEA and HRA identify that NE2 may be important as a foraging area for kittiwake and concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts has resulted in this DPO as being classified as being 'subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint'.

There is potential for areas within NE2 to be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring. Risks to spawning fish (related to piling noise) would need to be addressed via project-level mitigation.

4.5.3 NE3

NE3 covers a total area of 339 km2 with a potential maximum realistic development of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 59% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is between 60 m and 100 m throughout.

The SEIA identifies costs to commercial shipping and fishing sectors, both of which are low when considered over the lifetime of a development and would need to be considered at a project-level. There is also potential, however, for development in NE3 to have consequences for navigational safety, due to proximity to key shipping routes, which will require consideration and management in project level assessment.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE3.

The SEA and HRA identify that NE3 may be important as a foraging area for seabirds, and concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts has resulted in this DPO as being classified as being 'subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint'.

There is potential for areas within NE3 to be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring. Risks to spawning fish would need to be addressed by project-level mitigation.

4.5.4 NE4

NE4 covers a total area of 440 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 45% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is predominantly shallow (<60 m) throughout, with small areas of deeper water (60-100 m) in the south of the DPO.

The SEIA identifies generally lower socio-economic costs arising from potential offshore wind development within NE4. The only identified costs are to commercial shipping and fishing sectors, both of which are low when considered over the lifetime of a development. There is also potential for development in NE4 to have significant consequences for navigational safety, due to a large overlap with the key shipping route around the Scottish coastline. This will require significant consideration and management in project level assessment, as these effects are unlikely to be avoidable, due to the high density of traffic throughout the DPO.

Consultation will be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE4.

Similar to NE2 above, the SEA and HRA identify that NE4 is likely to be important as a foraging area for seabirds, including kittiwake from multiple SPA. As discussed above, concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts on key seabird species has resulted in this DPO as being classified as being 'subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint'.

4.5.5 NE5

NE5 covers a total area of 496 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 40% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is shallow (< 60 m) in the northern half and deeper (60-100 m) in the southern half of the DPO.

The SEIA identifies generally low socio-economic costs arising from potential offshore wind development within NE5, with the exception of commercial shipping. However, the commercial shipping impacts are linked to the diversion of ships transiting the DPO, the majority of which are currently linked to development of the other offshore wind farms within the Moray Firth (principally Beatrice). It is therefore unlikely that the costs identified within the SEIA will be fully realised. Furthermore, where required, spatial planning at a project level can be used to provide appropriate shipping lanes through the DPO.

Consultation will be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE5.

The SEA and HRA identify that NE5 is important as a foraging area for seabirds, including kittiwake and concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts has resulted in this DPO as being classified as being 'subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint'.

There is potential for areas within NE5 to be important scallop fishing area, and fish spawning grounds, including for herring, and these risks would need to be mitigated at a project-level.

4.5.6 NE6

NE6 covers a total area of 669 km2 and offers potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 57% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is mostly 60 m to 100 m throughout with some areas of deeper water (> 100 m) in the south and west of the DPO.

The SEIA identifies potential socio-economic impacts on the commercial shipping sector, including lifeline ferry services. There a high density of shipping activity in this area, therefore, potential for mitigating costs may be limited. Similarly, the SEA identifies potential risks to navigational safety, arising from the potential concentration of traffic into fewer, narrower routes either around, or within the DPO. These impacts would need to be considered at a project-level.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE6.

The SEA and HRA identify that NE6 may be important as a foraging area for seabirds, including kittiwake, and concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts has resulted in this DPO as being classified as being 'subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint'.

There is potential for areas within NE6 to be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring and sandeel. Risks to spawning fish would need to be considered at a project-level.

4.5.7 NE7

NE7 covers a total area of 1027 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 3 GW of generating capacity (equating to 58% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is generally deep throughout (> 100 m) with some areas of shallower depth (60 – 100 m).

The SEIA identifies potential for significant socio-economic cost impacts associated with the loss of fishing grounds arising from potential offshore wind farm development in NE7. Key gear types in NE7 are pelagic trawls and demersal trawls, which are likely to be excluded from the footprint of any offshore wind development.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE7.

The SEA identifies that NE7 has the potential to affect bird species, although the distance offshore reduces the potential risk to foraging areas. There may, however, be species which transit through these offshore areas as part of migration routes, and therefore project level survey and consideration of potential mitigation measures would be required.

4.5.8 NE8

NE8 covers a total area of 401 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 50% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is generally deeper throughout with a combination of areas of 60 m to 100 m and areas greater than 100 m water depth.

The SEIA identifies potential for significant socio-economic cost impacts associated with the loss of fishing grounds in NE8, which is the most intensively fished DPO under consideration. Key gear types in NE8 are midwater trawls which are likely to be excluded from the footprint of any offshore wind development.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in NE8.

The SEA identifies that NE8 has the potential to affect bird species, although the distance offshore reduces the potential risk to foraging areas. There may, however, be species which transit through these offshore areas as part of migration routes, and therefore project level survey and consideration of potential mitigation will be required.

4.5.9 Key actions for the North East region

As discussed further in section 5.2.1, DPOs NE2, NE3, NE4, NE5 and NE6 have been classed as being subject to 'high levels of ornithological constraint'. It is proposed, therefore, that development will only be able to progress at DPOs NE2-6 where sufficient scientific evidence can be provided to reduce the risk to an acceptable level (unless it can be determined that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest that require development to proceed).

In addition to the requirements regarding DPOs NE2-6, and in order to progress development in the North East region, the following (non-exhaustive) key steps are likely to form part of the development process. It is recognised that some steps will be more applicable to specific DPOs within the NE region:

  • consultation with local stakeholders regarding landscape and seascape;
  • pre- and post-consent, and post-construction, bird monitoring;
  • benthic survey and subsequent spatial planning to avoid any key habitats identified;
  • consultation with the fishing community;
  • consultation with the MOD;
  • consultation with the oil and gas industry; and
  • consultation with the Marine and Coastguard Agency.

4.6 East region

The East region encompasses three draft plan option areas (E1, E2 and E3) (as shown in Figure 13). The key risk factors to development within the East region are:

  • risks to bird species, including collision risk and displacement, as well as potential impacts to birds on migratory pathways
  • potential impacts on marine mammal receptors;
  • potential impacts on benthic habitat and species;
  • potential cost impacts and associated navigational risk from diverting key commercial shipping routes; and
  • potential impacts on commercial fishing.

Figure 13 East Region DPOs

Figure 13 East Region DPOs

Within the East region, there is already significant offshore wind development, inshore of the proposed DPOs, including the following operational and consented projects:

  • Forthwind Offshore Windfarm (29.9 MW consented);
  • Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine (7 MW operational);
  • European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (93 MW operational);
  • Inch Cape (700 MW consented);
  • Kincardine Offshore Windfarm (50 MW consented, partially operational);
  • Neart na Gaoithe (450 MW consented);
  • Hywind Scotland Pilot Park (30 MW operational); and
  • Seagreen Alpha and Bravo (1050 MW consented).

In addition, Seagreen Phases 2 (c. 1800 MW) and 3 (c. 800 MW) (also known as Seagreen Charlie and Delta) were previously scoped and these projects would need to be considered in any in-combination assessment.

Within the East region a key pathway of concern relates to effects on bird populations, due to potential in-combination impacts resulting from collision risk and displacement for key seabird species. These concerns are detailed in full in the HRA report and DPO E3 is therefore classed as being subject to 'high levels of ornithological constraint' (as set out at section 5.2.1). It is proposed, therefore, that development will only be able to progress at DPOs NE2-6 where sufficient scientific evidence can be provided to reduce the risk to an acceptable level (unless it can be determined that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest that require development to proceed).

In addition, the HRA report identifies that there are concerns regarding the scale of the potential in-combination impacts on key seabird species from development at DPOs E1 and E2. Therefore, further regional survey effort and discussion will be required (as outlined in section 5.2.2) before development can progress in these DPOs.

Potentially significant effects on marine mammals could occur during construction activities, and further consideration of potential impacts and mitigation measures will be required at a project-level.

As per the North East region, there is the potential for some overlap and/or interaction between the DPOs and areas licensed and/or leased for oil and gas production or exploration. Further consultation would be required with the oil and gas industry regarding potential interactions.

4.6.1 E1

E1 covers a total area of 3816 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development scenario of up to 3 GW of generating capacity (equating to 16% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is between 60 m and 100 m throughout.

The SEIA identifies minor socio-economic cost impacts arising from potential development in E1 to commercial shipping, fishing and power interconnector sectors, which would need to be considered at a project-level.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in E1.

The SEA and HRA identifies that E1 may be important as a foraging area for kittiwake and razorbill and therefore, due to the concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts, further regional survey effort and consultation would be required.

There is potential for areas within E1 to be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring, cod, whiting, plaice and sandeel. Risks to spawning fish would need to be considered and mitigated at a project-level.

4.6.2 E2

E2 covers a total area of 1287 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development of up to 2 GW of generating capacity (equating to 31% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO is between 60 m and 100 m throughout.

The SEIA identifies minor socio-economic cost impacts arising from potential development in E2 to commercial shipping and fishing sectors.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in E2.

The SEA and HRA identifies that E2 may be important as a foraging area for kittiwake and razorbill and therefore, due to the concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts, further regional survey effort and consultation would be required.

There is potential for areas within E2 to be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring, cod, whiting, plaice and sandeel. Risks to spawning fish would need to be considered and mitigated at a project level.

4.6.3 E3

E3 covers a total area of 474 km2 and offers a potential maximum realistic development of up to 1 GW of generating capacity (equating to 42% of the total area of the DPO). The water depth across the DPO varies, incorporating area of shallow water (0-60 m), and deeper water (both 60 – 100 m and > 100 m).

The SEIA identifies minor socio-economic cost impacts for the commercial shipping, fishing and power interconnector sectors, which would need to be considered and mitigated at a project-level.

Consultation would be required with the MOD regarding potential radar interference from turbines in E3.

The SEA and HRA identify that E3 may be important as a foraging area for kittiwake from designated SPA sites, As discussed above, concerns regarding potential in-combination impacts on key seabird species has resulted in this DPO as being classified as being 'subject to higher levels of ornithological constraint'.

There is potential for areas within E3 to be important fish spawning grounds, including for herring, cod, whiting, plaice and sandeel. Risks to spawning fish would need to be mitigated at a project-level.

4.6.4 Key actions for the East region

As discussed in section 5.2.1, E3 has been classed as a DPO subject to 'high levels of ornithological constraint'. It is proposed, therefore, that development will only be able to progress at DPO E3 where sufficient scientific evidence can be provided to reduce the risk to an acceptable level (unless it can be determined that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest that require development to proceed). As outlined at section 5.2.2, DPOs E1 and E2 would require the completion of further regional-level survey effort before development can proceed.

In addition to the requirements above and in order to progress development in the East region, the following (non-exhaustive) key steps are likely to form part of the development process. It is recognised that some steps will be more applicable to specific DPOs within the region:

  • consultation with local stakeholders regarding landscape and seascape concerns;
  • completion of regional-level ornithological surveys in DPOs E1 and E2;
  • pre- and post-consent, and post-construction, bird monitoring;
  • benthic survey and subsequent spatial planning to avoid any key habitats identified;
  • consultation with the fishing community;
  • consultation with the oil and gas industry; and
  • consultation with the Marine and Coastguard Agency.

Contact

Email: drew.milne@gov.scot