Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Renewable Energy in Scottish Waters: Socio - Economic Assesment

The study reported here provides a high level socio-economic appraisal of the potential costs and benefits to activities that may arise as a result of offshore wind, wave or tidal development within the Draft Plan Options as part of possible future Scotti

C2. Aviation

C2.1 Scoping Results

The results of the scoping assessment for offshore wind Draft Plan Option areas are presented in Table C2.1 and identify whether more detailed assessment is required (Y/N). No significant issues for wave and tidal Draft Plan Option areas were identified, although consideration needs to be given to possible impacts during construction.

Table C2.1 Offshore Wind

North North-East South-West West North-West
Spatial overlap between Draft Plan Option areas and helicopter routes N Y* - for central and high scenarios only N Y* - for central and high scenarios only N N N N N N
Within the line of sight of at least one of the primary surveillance radar ( PSR) used or operated by NATS En-Route N N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N
Within the 15nm of the safeguarding zones around secondary surveillance radar ( SSR) around airports N Y Y Y N N N Y N N
Intersects with the suggested CAA consultation zones around airports N Y Y N N N N N N N
Within areas likely to cause concern with regard to Meteorological radar zones N N N N N N N N N N
Within the 10km safeguarding zones around En-route navigation aids N N N N N N N N N N
Within the 10km safeguarding zones around Air-Ground-Air communication sites N N N N N N N N N N

* Draft Plan Option areas transected by helicopter routes, but arrays for low scenario occupy <5% of Draft Plan Option areas. It has been assumed that spatial planning of the Draft Plan Option areas can be used to avoid significant impacts under this scenario.

C2.2 Assessment Results - Estimation of Costs and Benefits

C2.2.1 Height Obstruction to Commercial Helicopter Navigation Routes

Figure B2 shows that multiple HMRs intersect with the wind Draft Plan Option area OWN2 in the North SORER and OWNE1 and OWNE2 in the North East SORER, indicating potential impacts in these areas. However, at the time of writing no information was available regarding the frequency of use of HMRs in these regions or the proportion of total flights affected by inclement weather requiring low flying. As such no meaningful quantitative estimate of the cost to industry could be undertaken.

The Civil Aviation Authority advised that with regard to site specific interactions with HMRs, consultation should occur between the developer, the helicopter operators and the Air Navigation Service Providers ( ANSPs) that operate in and around the HMR structure. It was also highlighted that in contrast to other HMRs, which are 'signposts' to aid flight safety, the HMR structure around Aberdeen ( i.e. the helicopter routes in/out of Aberdeen airport) are used differently and helicopters will often follow the routes in this area. NATS Aberdeen should be consulted regarding any potential interactions with these routes (Kelly Lightowler, CAA, pers. comm. 12 March 2013).

C2.2.2 Interference with Radar Systems

NATS provided an assessment of where the proposed wind Draft Plan Option areas overlapped with areas of primary radar cover and other relevant safeguarded zones ( e.g. Secondary Surveillance Radars; SSRs). The outputs are summarised below:

  • Area OWNW1 and OWN1 are free from any conflict;
  • Area OWN2 is largely unaffected, however, the western part is within a safeguarded zone in which an impact (interference) could occur on the SSR. As such, an early dialogue should be undertaken with NATS regarding development in this area to enable a more detailed analysis, which would consider the exact characteristics and locations of turbines, to ascertain if/what impact can be expected and to discuss any obvious solutions to these impacts (turbine relocation etc);
  • All areas (except OWNW1 and OWN1) overlap with Primary Radar Cover at 200m above ground level (agl), falling within areas of good radar cover. As such, depending on their height, all of the turbines are very likely to generate clutter on the Air Traffic Control ( ATC) displays. Depending on the number of turbines, this has the potential to render the radar unusable in that area, while also affecting its general performance beyond the range of the wind farm, effectively preventing an affected radar from detecting real aircraft. Coupled with the Air Traffic Requirements for low level radar cover in order to provide Air Traffic Services to the offshore helicopter industry and other airspace users, this can be a safety issue. Early engagement with NATS would be advisable; and
  • Although all of the proposed Draft Plan Option areas fall outside of the safeguarded zones for navigation aids and communications, NATS advised that depending on the size, numbers and relative proximity of the turbines within the proposed developments, the potential for interference is a possibility.

The following response was received from the CAA:

"The CAA do not routinely provide objections or support to particular wind farm developments, or in this case, Draft Plan Option areas for potential wind farm development sites. As the regulator, the CAA must remain impartial to each application that is received and provide regulatory and policy advice for each potential development. The CAA has no responsibilities for safeguarding sites other than its own property and would not comment on the potential impact upon specific radar systems. Rather, the CAA would suggest consultation with the Air Navigation Service Provider ( ANSP) or site operator. The ANSP / site operators remain responsible for providing expert testimony as to any impact on their operations and the lack of a statement of objection or support from the CAA should not be taken to mean that there are no aviation issues, or that a comment from an operator lacks weight. During planning the CAA reminds those involved of their obligations to consult in accordance with ODPM/DfT Circular 1/2003 or Scottish Government Circular 2/2003, and in particular to consult with NATS and the Ministry of Defence as well as any aerodromes listed in Annex 3 of the above documents, taking note of appropriate guidance and policy documentation. Whilst the CAA recommends all aerodrome operators/licence holders develop associated safeguarding maps and lodge such maps with local planning authorities, the CAA additionally encourages planners to undertake relevant consultation with known local aerodromes regardless of status or the existence of any aerodrome/council safeguarding agreement".

C2.2.3 Summary

It was not possible to undertake a quantitative impact assessment of the cost to commercial aviation interests, due to lack of information relating to the particular sector impacted ( i.e. helicopter operators). However, in relation to impacts on radar systems, consultation with NATS confirmed that there are anticipated impacts of offshore wind array development in all SORER on radar systems, affecting both primary and secondary surveillance radar and possibly navigation aids. The costs of mitigation measures (assuming the measures are acceptable to NATS) would be borne by the developer. Early consultation with NATS is advised to discuss potential solutions and mitigation. Consultation should also be undertaken with all known local aerodromes.

There are potential cost impacts for helicopter operators where helicopters need to deviate around offshore wind farms when low flying during adverse weather. However, it has not been possible to quantify these costs.

C2.3 References

ABPmer, RPA and SQW, 2011. Economic Assessment of Short Term Options for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish territorial Waters: Costs and Benefits to Other Marine Users and Interests. Report for Marine Scotland. Report R. 1743, March 2011.

Department of Energy and Climate Change ( DECC) website. Aviation Safeguarding Maps: https://restats.decc.gov.uk/cms/aviation-safeguarding-maps/

Department for Transport (DfT), 2011. UK Aviation Forecasts. August 2011. Available online: http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/uk-aviation-forecasts-2011

National Air Traffic Service ( NATS) website. Aeronautical Information Service. http://www.nats-uk.ead-it.com/public/index.php.html Accessed: 15/03/13

National Air Traffic Service ( NATS), 2013. Self Assessment Maps. http://www.nats.co.uk/services/information/wind-farms/ self-assessment-maps/Accessed: 15/03/13


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