Publication - Impact assessment

Offshore wind energy - draft sectoral marine plan: social and economic impact assessment

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

A social and economic impact assessment to support development of the draft sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy.

316 page PDF

4.9 MB

Offshore wind energy - draft sectoral marine plan: social and economic impact assessment
Non-Technical Summary

Non-Technical Summary


The Scottish Government is developing a plan for future commercial-scale offshore wind development in Scottish waters in the period to 2050. The plan builds on the previous draft plan for offshore wind published in 2013 and also seeks to provide opportunities for deep water wind technologies which may become commercially viable over this time period.

The geographical scope of the plan covers Scottish Waters (0-200 nautical miles, NM) (Figure 1). This includes Scottish Territorial Waters (0-12 NM) and the Scottish Marine Area (12-200 NM) which is executively devolved to Scottish Ministers under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

What is Socio-Economic Impact Assessment?

Socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA) aims to identify and assess the potential economic and social effects of a proposed development or policy on the lives and circumstances of people, their families and their communities. The assessment investigates the potential cumulative positive and negative economic impacts, and associated potential social impacts, of implementing the Sectoral Marine Plan. It also considers the potential positive and negative economic impacts, and associated potential social impacts, of implementing the suite of measures overall.

The assessment provides Marine Scotland with evidence on economic and social effects to inform a Sustainability Appraisal for the Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind.

What is the plan?

The sectoral marine planning process is an iterative process, informed through stakeholder engagement and evidence from the related social, economic and environmental assessments. All of the information and consultation feedback gathered supports the Scottish Ministers in identifying Draft Plan Option areas (DPOs) to progress to the next phase of the plan process.

Currently the majority of offshore wind farms have been built using conventional fixed bottom substructure technology. The maximum depth considered economically and technically feasible for these to be installed is approximately up to 60 m of depth, although technological development may increase this to around 80 m. This depth requirement significantly limits the amount of seabed space that can be exploited. New technology such as floating wind turbines attached to the seabed by chains and anchors can potentially open up new areas of sea as they are theoretically not limited by depth. The maximum depth considered for offshore deployment is considered to be around 800 m.

An Areas of Search Scoping study was undertaken to identify areas for potential consideration, including the full range of water depths down to 800 m. The Scoping report identified an initial 24 Areas of Search (AoS) that could provide suitable locations for conventional and deep water wind options. These 24 AoS were subsequently reviewed and updated, through an examination of spatial data considerations in addition to advice and other related information provided by members of the Steering Groups and stakeholders, resulting in the identification of 17 Draft Plan Options (DPOs) taken forward for further assessment. (Figure NTS1)

Figure NTS1 Map of Offshore Wind Draft Plan Options and Regions

Figure NTS1 Map of Offshore Wind Draft Plan Options and Regions

How was the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment undertaken?

The methodology for the assessment of social and economic impacts built on similar previous studies and previous EIAs for offshore developments. It followed wider guidance on impact assessment including Scottish Government guidance on Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and HM Treasury’s Green Book methodology.

The methodology covers the following steps:

  • Scenarios relating to future offshore wind development;
  • Defining relevant marine activities for inclusion in the assessment;
  • Establishing a baseline;
  • Scoping of impacts;
  • Assessing negative economic impacts to marine activities;
  • Assessing positive economic impacts to marine activities;
  • Assessing social impacts on individuals, communities and society; and
  • Approach to assessing combined impacts.

Which scenarios have been assessed?

Three scenarios (termed ‘Low Case’, ‘Medium Case’ and ‘High Case’) are applied to reflect the different scales of possible future offshore development within the DPOs at national level in the period 2020 to 2050 as follows (in terms of additional capacity beyond existing lease agreements):

  • Low Case: 3 GW installed capacity;
  • Medium Case: 5 GW installed capacity;
  • High Case: 10 GW installed capacity;

In order to carry out a realistic assessment of the potential social and economic impact of possible development under the Plan, consideration has been given both to possible scales of development within each DPO and possible scales of development at regional and national levels. These assumptions are set out in Table NTS1.

The assessment of the potential negative impacts of development within individual DPOs has assumed that development occurs at a ‘maximum realistic level’ (column 5 of Table NTS1) having regard to the overall capacity of the DPO and the anticipated overall scale of likely development under the Plan at regional and national levels.

At regional scale, it is unlikely that development will occur in every DPO in a region and some locations will be taken forward in preference to others. Table NTS1 therefore also includes assumed realistic regional scales of development under the scenarios. To quantify impacts at regional level the sum of the project-level impacts has been scaled back pro rata to the regional scenario totals. To quantify impacts at national level, further scaling back of the regional totals has been undertaken in line with the overall scale of likely development under the Plan at national level under each scenario.

Table NTS1 Indicative Capacity and Occupancy of Draft Option Plan Areas

Region DPO Area (km²) Potential installed capacity (GW) Realistic maximum development scenario for DPO (GW) Regional Low Scenario (GW) Regional Medium Scenario (GW) Regional High Scenario (GW)
East E1 3816 19.1 3
E2 1287 6.4 2
E3 474 2.4 1
Sub-total 5577 27.9 6 1 2 3
North East NE1 776 3.9 2
NE2 464 2.3 1
NE3 339 1.7 1
NE4 440 2.2 1
NE5 496 2.5 1
NE6 699 3.5 2
NE7 1027 5.1 3
NE8 401 2.0 1
Sub-total 4641 23.2 12 1.5 3 4.5
North N1 1163 5.8 2
N2 560 2.8 2
N3 1106 5.5 2
N4 200 1.0 1
Sub-total 3030 15.1 7 1 2 3
West W1 1107 5.5 2
Sub-total 1107 5.5 2 0.5 1 2
South West SW1 292 1.5 1
Sub-total 292 1.5 1 0.3 0.6 1
Total 14646 73.2 28 4.3 8.6 13.5
Scaled back in national scenario to: 3 5 10

What are the likely significant economic and social impacts of the proposals?

The socio-economic assessment captures:

  • Positive GVA and job impacts from spending across the supply chain;
  • Negative impacts on GVA and jobs from adverse economic impacts on marine activities; and
  • Social impacts on individuals, communities and wider society from both the positive and negative impacts.

Positive GVA and job impacts are based on identifying the change in output due to spending on planning, construction, and operations (positive impacts) or reduction in activity or increased costs (negative impacts). These are estimated as impacts on marine sectors and, using the GVA effect and employment effect multipliers, the direct and indirect (Type I) and induced effects (Type II). They enable the knock-on effects to other sectors or society as a whole to be estimated. The impacts are quantified as change in GVA (£) and change in number of jobs (as full-time equivalents, FTEs). All impacts are assessed for the low, medium and high scenarios across the project assessment timescale from 2020 to 2059. An assessment is made of the amount of money that would be retained (retention rates) in each region based on the level of development over time, the expected capacity of the supply chain in 2020 and the extent to which this may grow due to the levels of spending along the supply chain.

The social impacts are assessed using social clusters, which are groupings of impacts intended to capture those effects that have been identified as being most significant to individuals and communities, and which align with national indicators and sustainable development goals from Scotland’s National Performance Framework. Social impacts are described and a rating is assigned to enable comparison of the expected magnitude of impacts. The ratings range from major negative (- - - -), which is associated with impacts that are expected to have a noticeable effect that is sufficient to cause complaints or protests from the community through to major positive (+ + + +), which is defined as having a noticeable effect that supports new services or activities within the community. The assessment also includes a distributional analysis where those groups that may be impacted more than others (positively or negatively) are highlighted.

Potential negative economic impacts on marine activities

Within the plan there is a variation in impacts between different DPOs and regions, with some DPOs having significantly higher potential negative economic impacts, and therefore likely constraints on development. Table NTS2 summarises the present value of potential negative economic impacts across all sectors and direct GVA impacts (for commercial fisheries) for each DPO.

Table NTS2 Potential negative economic impacts across all sectors per DPO (present value of total costs and direct GVA over assessment period 2020-2059, £000s, 2019 prices)

DPO Maximum Development Scenario (GW) Cost (£000s) Cost per GW installed (£000s) Direct GVA cost (£000s) Direct GVA cost per GW installed (£000s)
SW1 1 17,642 17,642 432 432
W1 2 5,131 2,565 1,482 741
N1 2 8,896 4,448 1,392 696
N2 2 418 209 823 411
N3 2 318 159 1,991 995
N4 1 4,159 4,159 675 675
NE1 3 2,273 1,137 1,378 689
NE2 1 9,269 9,269 399 399
NE3 1 2,048 2,048 600 600
NE4 1 2,639 2,639 808 808
NE5 1 6,435 6,435 803 803
NE6 2 19,712 9,856 345 173
NE7 2 3,082 1,541 2,967 1,483
NE8 1 777 777 1,786 1,786
E1 3 1,916 639 326 109
E2 2 786 393 659 330
E3 1 5,456 5,456 74 74

The highest quantified potential negative economic impacts (on costs) under the maximum development scenario are in NE6 at £19.7 million, whilst per GW SW1 is highest at £17.6 million.

Negative economic impacts on commercial shipping and commercial fishing make up the vast majority of the total potential impacts at all DPOs with smaller impacts from watersports, tourism and power interconnectors within certain regions.

Impacts on commercial fisheries show relatively high impacts on direct GVA (over £1 million present value over the assessment period) for a number of DPOs under the maximum development scenario (W1, N1, N3, NE1, NE7 and NE8). When considered in relation to the impact per GW installed, NE4, NE5 and N4 also have a relatively high impact per GW. These DPOs affect a range of different fleet segments (demersal trawl/seine, pelagic trawl, mechanical dredge, pots) mostly for over-12m vessels but some also for 12m and under vessels (N4, NE4, NE5). The potential for a combined impact on individual fleet segments within a region is limited by the distribution of the DPOs, which tend to affect different fleet segments. The exceptions are NE4 and NE5, which are in close proximity and both affect over-12m mechanical dredgers, and N2 and N3 which both affect over-12m demersal trawlers and pelagic trawlers.

Whilst the quantified potential cost impact in certain DPOs is low this may, but does not necessarily, indicate a region of lower constraint, as unquantified impacts, such as requirements to divert helicopter routes around offshore wind developments, may have the potential to be of significant constraint.

In addition, spatial planning within DPOs has the potential to avoid areas of larger impacts, and hence reduce overall potential impacts to sectors. i.e. through the application of MGN 543 to design safe shipping lanes through offshore wind arrays and therefore reduce potential impacts to commercial shipping. The impact of such spatial planning cannot be assessed within this document, so a worst-case scenario has been used for the purposes of the calculations. However spatial planning can be defined at plan level as a requirement on project development.

At regional and national scales it is recognised that not all DPOs will be developed, and not all to their maximum development scenario. Therefore, it is appropriate to scale the potential negative economic impacts identified above against individual DPOs when combining them at a regional and national scale. Table NTS3 summarises the total present value potential impacts for all sectors (excluding commercial fishing which is included within Table NTS4 as direct GVA impacts) combined and scaled as per the regional and national scenarios.

Table NTS3 Potential negative economic impacts to all sectors (excluding fisheries) (present value of total costs over assessment period 2020-2059, £000s, scaled to regional and national scenarios)

Region Low Scenario (GW) Low Scenario (£000s) Medium Scenario (GW) Medium Scenario (£000s) High Scenario (GW) High Scenario (£000s)
South West 0.3 5,295 0.6 9,317 1 15,529
West 0.5 1,288 1 2,565 2 4,516
North 1 1,734 2 3,468 3 4,569
North East 1.5 5,372 3 9,241 4.5 13,861
East 1 1,360 2 2,502 3 3,463
National 3 8,638 5 13,636 10 27,704

Table NTS4 Potential negative economic to commercial fisheries (direct GVA impacts over assessment period 2020-2059, £000s, scaled to regional and national scenarios)

Region Low Scenario (GW) Low Scenario (£000s) Medium Scenario (GW) Medium Scenario (£000s) High Scenario (GW) High Scenario (£000s)
South West 0.3 130 0.6 228 1 380
West 0.5 371 1 741 2 1,304
North 1 614 2 1,227 3 1,617
North East 1.5 1,000 3 1,756 4.5 2,634
East 1 177 2 311 3 409
National 3 1,353 5 2,125 10 4,284

Positive economic impacts

Supply chain impacts are reported by region and nationally, with GVA impacts given as a total across the study timescale and a maximum in any one year[1]. National GVA impacts range from £515 million (low scenario, Type I) to £2,137 million (high scenario, Type II). The maximum national GVA impacts in any one year are £46 million (low scenario, Type I) to £162 million (high scenario, Type II).

The GVA impacts vary considerably across the regions due to the amount of development that is expected and the retention rates that have been applied. Retention is expected to be greatest in the East and North East, but all regions see some growth in their supply chains over the project timescale. Highest levels of discounted GVA impacts from 2020 to 2059 are therefore also seen in the East and North East:

  • East: £389 million (low, Type I) to £1,386 million (high, Type II);
  • North East: £645 million (low, Type I) to £2,259 million (high, Type II);
  • North: £139 million (low, Type I) to £497 million (high, Type II);
  • West: £49 million (low, Type I) to £288 million (high, Type II); and
  • South West: £30 million (low, Type I) to £149 million (high, Type II).

Maximum GVA impacts in any one year are also greatest in the North East, but due to timing of spending and growth of supply chains are of a similar magnitude in the East and North:

  • East: £20 million (low, Type I) to £78 million (high, Type II);
  • North East: £77 million (low, Type I) to £189 million (high, Type II);
  • North: £21 million (low, Type I) to £50 million (high, Type II);
  • West: £3.4 million (low, Type I) to £40 million (high, Type II); and
  • South West: £2.6 million (low, Type I) to £21 million (high, Type II).

Employment impacts are given as the maximum number of FTEs in any one year. Total jobs over the timescale cannot be simply summed over the 2020 to 2059 period as some jobs are likely to be provided for more than one year. The maximum number of FTEs generated or supported nationally is estimated at 864 (low, type I) to 3,821 (high, Type II). As with GVA impacts, the highest number of FTEs are seen in North East, East and North regions:

  • East: 282 (low, Type I) to 1,849 (high, Type II);
  • North East: 1,255 (low, Type I) to 4,250 (high, Type II);
  • North: 373 (low, Type I) to 1,126 (high, Type II);
  • West: 51 (low, Type I) to 808 (high, Type II); and
  • South West: 38 (low, Type I) to 426 (high, Type II).

It is important to note that the sum across the regions is different to the national estimate due to the overall sum spent at the national level being scaled back.

Social impacts on individuals, communities and society

The socio-economic impacts have been assessed at both the national and regional scales. For all clusters, the ratings assigned to positive impacts from increased GVA and jobs in a region and nationally suggest these are at least equal to, and in many cases are greater than, the ratings for negative impacts. Overall the combined positive social impacts are expected to be slightly significant nationally and in the East and North East, and not very significant for the North, West and South West. Distributionally, both positive and negative impacts are likely to be centered around those ports with facilities to support wind farm activities, or where there are opportunities for expansion.

Positive community impacts range from negligible (+) to moderate (+ + +). The largest impacts are seen in the East and North East in terms of local industries, community sustainability and education. An influx of new people to take up jobs in the North East could also help support services such as shops, again helping to improve community sustainability. Overall, impacts in the North East and to some extent the East and nationally will see expansion of some services helping to lead to positive effects for local communities. The impacts may be affected by the transition from construction to operational phase if there is a significant reduction in number of workers. Overall, the impacts are expected to be not very significant in the North, West and South West and slightly significant in the East and North East.

Negative community impacts range from negligible (-) to moderate (- - -). Moderate negative impacts occur in the North East due to potential impacts on ferry services and possible congestion due to large numbers of people moving into the area to take up jobs. Demands for services such as housing and education may also result in negative impacts (although over time, expansion of such services may lead to positive impacts for the community). Although most negative impacts in the North, West and South West are minor (i.e. noticed by the community but accepted by the majority), there may be some local unease over changes to landscapes and seascapes, and perceived impacts on recreational opportunities that may have some distributional effects on specific groups within local communities. Nationally, the overall negative impacts are expected to be negligible (-) to minor (- -). Overall, the impacts are expected to be slightly significant in the North East and not very significant in the East, North, West, South West and nationally.

How do I respond to the consultation?

We are inviting responses to this consultation by 25 March 2020.

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If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form to:

Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy Consultation
Scottish Government
Marine Planning and Policy Division
Area GB North
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

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