The Scottish Government believes that Scotland can lead the world in the development and deployment of offshore renewable energy technologies. Our potential is enormous and the development of the Sectoral Marine Plans provides an opportunity to consider how we further harness this vast resource, in a sustainable manner, to provide us with the power we need for our homes, businesses and to drive our ambition for a low carbon Scottish economy.
The Scottish Government has used a marine planning approach to develop the Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy in Scottish Waters. This process involves giving consideration to our resource and key constraints before applying social, economic and environmental assessments to inform the development of options contained within the Draft Sectoral Marine Plans.
Consultation is also a key element in the development of the Plans. Through this, the Scottish Government will engage, capture and build the views of statutory, sectoral, regional, voluntary and other bodies as well as individuals into the planning process.
The draft Plans contain 10 proposed options for offshore wind, 10 for tidal energy and 8 for wave energy. The process for identifying the draft Options started by identifying broad areas of search through mapping resource and any potential constraints. To refine the areas of search, consideration was given to further detailed information on socio-economic, environmental and planning issues, as well as the key themes emerging from the pre-statutory consultation held in August 2012. In January 2013, Scottish Ministers approved the draft options to be progressed to the assessment and consultation stage.
The Draft Plans Options have been subject to Sustainability Appraisal. This comprises Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA), Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) and Socio-economic Assessment. The outcomes of the SEA, draft HRA, Socio-economic Assessment have informed the development of the draft Plans. These assessments identified strategic issues relating to shipping, fishing, grid provision and environmental impact which apply in all offshore renewable energy regions around Scotland. In addition, there are significant environmental and cultural issues in certain regions such as the potential for visual impact and the effects this may have on tourism.
The Draft Plans, Sustainability Appraisal Report, SEA Environmental Report and Socio-economics Report are now subject to a 16 week statutory consultation period with member of the public and interested stakeholder organisations.
The relevant documents are available on the Scottish Government's website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Consultations/Current
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the statutory consultation authority for HRA, will be consulted during this period. However, comments on the Draft HRA Report are also welcome from the public and interested stakeholder organisations. This is available to view at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/marineenergy/Planning
Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us with the preparations of the Final Draft Plans.
We will review the Draft Plans (taking account of responses received) and revised as appropriate. We aim to issue a report on this consultation process by December 2013 and if required will undertake further assessment and consultation in light of any significant revisions to the Draft Plans. Final Draft Plans will then be presented to Scottish Ministers' to be formally adopted in early 2014.
Following adoption, a Post-Adoption Statement will be prepared to document the process and demonstrate how issues raised during consultation have been addressed by the final Plans. Once the final Plan has been published, the monitoring framework set out within the SEA Environmental Report will be expanded to incorporate further detail on monitoring of key technical issues, and will be used to assess the impacts of the implementation of the Plans. At this stage, it is proposed that the Plans are reviewed every two years.