Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Renewable Energy in Scottish Waters: Consultation Paper

The Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal energy in Scottish Waters represent Scottish Ministers' proposed spatial policy for the development of commercial scale offshore renewable energy at a national and regional level.

3. Sectoral Marine Planning Process

3.1.1 The following section provides details of the process for developing the Plans and the proposed Options contained within the Plans for Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy. Fig.2 provides a diagrammatic representation of the process with an explanation of each of the stages detailed below.

Fig.2 Sectoral Marine Planning Process

Fig.2 Sectoral Marine Planning Process

Scoping - Areas of Search

3.2.1 The Crown Estate's Marine Resource System (MaRS) is used to help identify areas of resource, avoiding constraints, for offshore renewable development. The output at this stage is 'Scoping Areas of Search'

Draft Initial Plan Framework

3.3.1 The 'Scoping Areas of Search' populate Draft Initial Plan Frameworks. These Frameworks provides further information on the process for development the Sectoral Marine Plans.

Draft Regional Locational Guidance

3.4.1 Draft Regional Locational Guidance ( RLG) is prepared in relation to the Scoping Areas of Search. The Guidance provides more detailed technical, environmental, planning and socio-economic information in relation to the Areas of Search as well as the broader region in which they are located.

Pre-Statutory Consultation

3.5.1 Pre-Statutory Consultation is undertaken involving workshops with relevant sectors and communities. The events are used to raise awareness of the overall process for developing the plans and invite comments on the Draft Initial Plan Frameworks ( IPFs) and Draft Regional Locational Guidance.

3.5.2 This allows sectors and communities to feed in specific and local knowledge and issues at the beginning of the process and allow for a better awareness of the Scottish Government's proposals to develop the industry within Scotland's seas.

Pre-Statutory Consultation Analysis Report

3.6.1 A Report is published documenting the key themes emerging from the Pre-Statutory Consultation.

Initial Plan Framework

3.7.1 This information within in the Draft Regional Locational Guidance in addition to feedback from the Pre-Statutory Consultation is used to refine the Areas of Search in to Draft Plan Options.

3.7.2 The Initial Plan Framework (containing the Plan Options) is then put to Scottish Minister's for approval before for the formal sectoral planning process is commenced.

Sustainability Appraisal

3.8.1 A Sustainability Appraisal is undertaken to inform the development of the Sectoral Marine Plans. This comprises:

  • Sustainability Appraisal Report
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment
  • Socio-economic Assessment
  • (Draft) Habitats Regulations Appraisal
  • Consultation Analysis

3.8.2 The Draft Sectoral Marine Plans are subject to the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 and aligned with the process for developing Marine Plans outlined in the UK Marine Policy Statement. The Draft Sectoral Marine Plans are also subject to Habitats Regulations Appraisal in order to assess and mitigate the effects on Natura 2000 sites and species.

3.8.3 Together, these assessments contribute to an overall Sustainability Appraisal which seeks to ensure that the Sectoral Marine Plans have been developed using a process which enables integration in the to National Marine Plan without the requirement to undertake further assessment work to address social, environmental and economic concerns.

3.8.4 To inform the development of each assessment and ensure stakeholder involvement, representative cross-sectoral advisory groups are formed made up of members from the Scottish Government Marine Strategy Forum.

The following sections outline each component in further details:

Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA)

3.8.5 The SEA plays a prominent role in the development of the Plan by identifying key environmental receptors, effects and mitigation measures and by providing an early indication of issues to be addressed at the project level.

3.8.6 SEA is applied to test and comment on the plan options for development from a strategic perspective. The process is applicable to strategic and regional level issues. The SEA findings and associated opinions arising from the consultation process will lead to broad recommendations for the Plan as a whole. The findings from the SEA process will also, where appropriate, be used as a starting point for further, more detailed data collection and environmental assessment, either for strategic review at a regional level or for developer project-level assessment.

Socio-economic Assessment

3.8.7 The Socio-economic Assessment aims to identify the extent to which existing marine activities may be affected by proposals for future plan options for offshore renewable energy, and to estimate the potential economic and social consequences arising from their potential interactions. Site-specific or local impacts are not within the scope of the assessment; these will be addressed through project-level analyses within the licensing process.

Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA)

3.8.8 The HRA assesses future plan options for significant effects on Natura 2000 sites. A Draft HRA Report will accompany the Draft Plans. The findings will lead to alterations of the Plan if it is concluded that a development may result in a significant effect on a Natura 2000 site and that appropriate mitigation measures cannot be determined.

Sustainability Appraisal Report

3.9.1 The Sustainability Appraisal Report draws together the key findings of the SEA, HRA and Socio-economic Assessments. It provides an overall assessment of the Draft Plans in relation to achieving sustainable development.

3.9.2 The Sustainability Appraisal Report, along with each of the individual assessments, is subject to formal consultation with the public and stakeholders for a period of at least 16 weeks which will run concurrently with the consultation on the Draft Plans.

Draft Plans

3.10.1 The key findings from the HRA, SEA and Socio-economic Assessment inform the development of the Draft Plans. The outcomes and key findings of the Locational Guidance will also inform the identification of options within the Draft Plans.

3.10.2 The Draft Plans are subject to formal consultation with the public and stakeholders for a minimum period of 16 weeks.

Statutory Consultation

3.11.1 Under the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, there is a requirement to consult on the Draft Plan and the SEA Environmental Report. The Statutory Consultation Authorities for the SEA are SNH, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency ( SEPA), Historic Scotland and JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee).

3.11.2 Statutory Consultation is also a requirement of HRA (at the appropriate assessment stage). The Statutory Consultation Authority for HRA is Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH). The respective documentation for the HRA and SEA processes will detail the procedures for consultation.

3.11.3 The Sustainability Appraisal Report, including the SEA, Draft HRA and Socio-economic assessment will be subject to formal consultation with the public and stakeholders for a period of at least 16 weeks [4] . Where appropriate, extensions will be granted if consultees highlight that they require more time to respond.

Consultation Analysis Report

3.12.1 Consultation Analysis aims to ensure that key issues and concerns of the sectors and communities can be taken into account throughout the process. A Consultation Analysis Report is be produced which details the consultation responses to the Draft Plans, Sustainability Appraisal Report and each of the assessments. The responses are analysed and summarised and if required, subject to further consultation to ensure an accurate representation of the pre and statutory consultation processes. The key findings outlined in the Consultation Analysis Report will inform the development of the Final Draft Plans.

Repeat Stage if Necessary

3.12.2 If significant alterations are made to the Draft Plans as a result of the key findings from statutory consultation, there may be a requirement to undertake further consultation on amended Draft Plans. This is a requirement of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.

Final Draft Plans

3.13.1 The key findings and recommendations arising from the HRA, SEA, Socio-economic Assessment and Consultation Analysis inform the development of the Final Draft Plans. The Final Draft Plans contain the recommended Plan Options for commercial offshore renewable energy generation development at the strategic level within Scottish Waters.

Scottish Ministers' Approval

3.14.1 The Final Draft Plans are put before Scottish Ministers for adoption. Ministers decide the actual details of the final Plan and confirm they are content to adopt the Plan.

Adopted Sectoral Plan

3.15.1 The Final Plans contain the adopted Plan Options for development in relation to commercial offshore renewable energy generation at the strategic level within Scottish Waters.

Post-Adoption Statement

3.16.1 A Post-Adoption Statement is a requirement of the Environment Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. The Statement outlines the reasons for choosing the Plan as adopted and details how environmental considerations have been incorporated into the Adopted Plans. It also contains a record of each consultation response and the subsequent actions taken in the plan development process as a result of each response.

3.16.2 The Post-Adoption Statement for the Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Renewable Energy also detail how considerations of the findings from the HRA and Socio-economic Assessments have been taken into account in the development of the Plan

Project Licensing for Adopted Plan Options

3.17.1 Taking forward a development within an adopted Plan Option is not a guarantee that the development will be given consent. The Plans seek to identify sustainable locations for the development of commercial scale offshore renewable energy development in Scottish Waters.

3.17.2 Where appropriate, project level assessments for developments taking place within adopted Plan Options should give consideration to the issues raised in the Adopted Plans, SEA, Strategic Habitats Regulations Appraisal and socio-economic assessments, during the screening and scoping stages for project level Environmental Impact Assessment.

Plan Review Process

3.18.1 It is proposed that a Sectoral Plans Review Group is established to oversee the implementation of the Plans. Such a group would help to facilitate strategic monitoring and research to increase our knowledge on national and regional level issues and address gaps in knowledge. This will include information gaps and issues identified by the socio-economic assessment, in addition to the SEA, HRA and the Plans. However, it must be stressed that this work is not meant to cover developmental site issues or certain cumulative or in-combination effects which have to remain the responsibility of the developers.


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