1 Non-Technical Summary
1.1.1 The Scottish Government has introduced a system of sectoral marine planning to facilitate the sustainable development of offshore renewable energy in Scottish Waters (0 - 200 nm). The Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy in Scottish Waters represent Scottish Ministers' proposed spatial policy at the national and regional level for the development of commercial scale offshore renewable energy in Scottish Waters.
1.1.2 The Plans build upon the existing plan of offshore wind produced in 2011 " Blues Seas Green Energy - The Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters", and the 2007 Marine Renewable Strategic Environmental Assessment. The plans aim to incorporate the key outputs from other marine planning initiatives such as the Regional Locational Guidance to support the Saltire Prize. The Plans also aim to inform and be informed by the emerging statutory marine planning framework, principally driven by the development of Scotland's first National Marine Plan. Figure 1.1 displays the options for marine renewable energy contained within the plans.
Figure 1.1 Draft Plan Options for Wind, Wave and Tidal
1.2 What is a Sustainability Appraisal?
1.2.1 A Sustainability Appraisal is a method of measuring and attempting to understand the environmental, social and economic effects of plans. The central principles of sustainability include sustainable economic growth, living within environmental limits, and ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.
1.2.2 A Sustainability Appraisal approach has been undertaken to inform the development of the consultation draft plans and has been informed by detailed technical assessments. A Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) which assesses impacts on the environment, a Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) which considers impacts on areas designated for habitats and species of international importance, and a socio-economic assessment that considers the impacts on other marine users and communities. Detailed technical reports from these assessments are also available for consultation.
1.3 What does the Sustainability Appraisal say about the plans?
1.3.1 There are many recognised benefits of utilising offshore renewables and transferring to a low carbon energy generation. It is highlighted by the Sustainability Appraisal that although beneficial there is still the potential for environmental, economic and social effects. These effects may even be adverse. There are difficulties in determining the significance of some of these due to varying factors such as gaps in knowledge of the governing body on the effects of renewable energy devices and also due to project specific factors, such as design and precise location.
1.3.2 The Sustainability Appraisal and accompanying technical assessments, identify mitigation and controls that if applied through the plan review process, and project design, planning and assessment could avoid and minimise adverse effects and increase sustainability. The draft plans incorporate some of these controls into their structure and these are available for comment as part of this assessment.
1.4 What are the recommendations of the Sustainability Appraisal?
1.4.1 The Sustainability Appraisal combines the recommendations of the technical assessments. These fall into three broad groups. Firstly recommendations for consideration in the planning and assessment of renewables projects within Draft Plan Options. These seek to reduce the potential adverse effects of issues that in many cases relate to aspects of project design or to specific devices, which have the potential to be proposed within Draft Plan Options but cannot be established at this strategic planning stage. Consideration of the recommendations in the development of projects will help to assist in avoiding or minimising the adverse effects identified.
1.4.2 Secondly the assessments recommend that further strategic planning and assessment be undertaken for the grid that will support new offshore energy development.
1.4.3 Finally there are recommendations in all of the assessments to create a project advisory group who can assist in filling gaps within the knowledge base regarding the likely effects of the plan. This is to be undertaken by creating a framework to draw together project level monitoring of effects, and current research streams into the potential effects of technologies. Furthermore the group can facilitate the means to bring this information into the plan review process and to suggest the necessary and targeted future research to fill outstanding data gaps. The project advisory group will help to provide greater clarity in regards to the significance of the effects of the plans, and enable plan options and growth scenarios to be revisited within the plan review process.
1.5 What are the next steps?
1.5.1 The Draft Plans, Sustainability Appraisal Report, SEA Environmental Report and Socio-Economics Report are subject to a 16 week statutory consultation period. The relevant documents are available on the Scottish Government's website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Consultations/Current and in hard copy from:Offshore Renewable Energy Planning
Policy and Planning
Area 1-A South
Tel: 0300 244 1235
1.5.2 Submissions regarding the Draft Plan, Sustainability Appraisal Report and accompanying assessment reports are being invited from the public and interested stakeholder organisations. Responses must be made in writing by 13th November 2013. These should be sent to the above address, or emailed to: email@example.com.
1.5.3 Following the completion of the consultation period, the Draft Plans will be reviewed by Marine Scotland (taking account of submissions received), revised as appropriate, and a final version will be formally adopted.
1.5.4 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. It is proposed that the Plans are reviewed every two years and updated and revised as appropriate after this period.