Offshore wind, wave and tidal energy applications: consenting and licensing manual

This document provides guidance on applying for consents and marine licences for offshore renewable energy projects within both Scottish Territorial Waters (out to 12 nautical miles (“nm”)) and Scottish Offshore Waters (12-200 nm). It updates and replaces the draft Marine Scotland Licensing and Consents Manual published in 2013.

3. Pre-Application

3.1 Pre-application Engagement

MS-LOT is the first point of contact for all queries relating to the consenting and licensing of offshore renewable energy projects in Scotland.

Early and adequate engagement with MS-LOT at the pre-application stage will assist developers in determining the level of data collection needed to inform supporting impact assessment. MS-LOT staff are trained in the issuing of the relevant consents and licences and in undertaking the various impartial assessments to underpin its decisions and advice. MS-LOT also has access to key information to support developers in preparation of applications. This includes support in the use of national datasets and detailed site specific information (e.g. baseline information on key environmental receptors, such as fish, marine mammals and birds).

A wide range of potential stakeholders will need to be consulted during the course of the application process and MS-LOT will provide advice in respect of specific proposals. Annex A lists consultees who are consulted on the majority of applications, however it is worth noting that there may be project specific consultees outwith that list.

Developers are also expected to have had prior discussion with groups and organisations, outside the application process. Examples include key local interest groups over the potential use of areas of sea (and land) sought for development, particularly where there is significant existing use of the area(s).

3.1.1 Early Stakeholder Engagement

Under the EIA Regulations, the EIA Report undergoes a formal public consultation process. However, in recognition of the potential issues arising, it is inherently valuable that developers engage with stakeholders well before the application stage.

MS-LOT recommends that developers recognise the importance of continuing engagement between developers, MS-LOT and its advisors, and other stakeholders (including local interest groups and the public). This will ensure that appropriate consideration is given to all stakeholder concerns and that opinions are integrated into the project decision making process. It is also worth highlighting the PAC requirements (outlined in Section 2.3.1 above) for certain prescribed activities in Scottish inshore waters.

3.1.2 Stakeholder Advice

During the course of performing regulatory duties, MS-LOT will seek advice and opinion from a variety of sources within MS, and also from expert external advisors, consultees, stakeholders and regulators. Where appropriate, such engagement will be coordinated to improve efficiency, with savings in cost and time.

Requests from developers to meet with MS-LOT, advisors and consultees should be supported by a draft meeting agenda. Supporting documentation / reports should be supplied to MS-LOT 14 calendar days before the meeting.

3.2 Project Design Envelope

Due to the frequent advances in technology development of equipment, and the nature of the design process, for offshore renewable energy projects, developers may not be able to provide precise design details in their consent applications. Some flexibility in the project description is acceptable, provided that the approach is fully described in the EIA Report to allow Scottish Ministers and consultees to fully understand the implications of the flexibility proposed.

At the time of application, any proposed flexibility in scheme parameters should not be so wide ranging as to represent effectively different types of project. The degree of flexibility in design parameters will need to be clearly defined in the application and EIA Report. It is a matter for the developer, in preparing a design envelope that will be the subject of an EIA Report to consider whether it is possible to robustly assess the scales of impacts resulting from projects within the proposed design envelope, which may contain a large number of flexible parameters. Developers should be in a position to be able to identify the most likely ranges of variations of options and so provide a more focused description.

For each of the different receptors, the EIA Report must identify what the worst case scenario will be within the design envelope and assess any impacts on that receptor on that basis. For example, the worst case scenario for marine mammals may be piled foundations, whereas the worst case scenario for benthic receptors is likely to be gravity base foundations.

Any EIA Report submitted must demonstrate that the ranges of likely significant environmental impacts have been assessed. Any limitations in the assessment should be identified and explained. The environmental information submitted should be sufficient for the relevant decision maker to determine the application. The EIA Report should set out the maximum and minimum parameters, for example in relation to the number of turbines, hub height, blade height tip, turbine separation distances etc.

Developers should note that the wider the design envelope the more difficult it may be to resolve issues with consultees and regulators and the more likely it will be to require consent conditions which will ensure that the, project if built, is within the parameters for which consent was granted and which were set out in the EIA Report. If a project is consented with a design envelope, the final design will be determined through the multi-stage regulatory approval / discharge of conditions such as the provision of a construction method statement, the design specification and the layout plan.

3.3 Environmental Screening and Scoping

All consent applications will require supporting information on the potential environmental effects of the development. This is likely to be through the production of a statutory EIA if the development has the potential for a significant adverse effect on the environment.

EIA is a procedure that must be followed for certain types of project before they can be given consent as outlined in the EIA Directive and associated regulations. The procedure is a means of drawing together, in a systematic way, an assessment of a project's significant environmental impacts.

An EIA is likely to be required for all offshore renewable energy developments, as outlined through the EIA Regulations.

3.3.1 Screening

The purpose of screening is to determine whether an EIA is required for a project listed in Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations.

Offshore Renewable Energy projects requiring s.36 consent all fall under Schedule 2 of the Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017, projects requiring only a Marine Licence fall under Schedule 2 of the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017. Development of a type listed in Schedule 2 requires EIA if it is likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location.

Development not requiring s.36 consent which does not exceed the thresholds set out in the second column of the table in Schedule 2 of the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 and which is not wholly or partly in a "sensitive area" as defined in Regulation 2(1), is not Schedule 2 works and therefore does not require EIA. An offshore renewable energy project which does not exceed the thresholds or meet the criteria in Schedule 2 but is in or partly in a "sensitive area", is Schedule 2 works but will require EIA only if it is screened as being likely to have significant effects on the environment. (For projects from 12 to 200 nm, the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 have not transposed Annex I or II of the EIA Directive, therefore Annex II should be used in terms of screening).

Requesting a screening opinion

Before submitting an application for consent for a Schedule 2 development, applicants may ask the Scottish Ministers for a screening opinion. The screening process is an opportunity to ensure that EIA is only undertaken for those projects which are likely to have significant effects on the environment. When making a screening request, the developer should therefore clearly and succinctly set out the information specified in the EIA Regulations, taking into account, where relevant, the selection criteria in Schedule 3 to the EIA Regulations. In compiling this information, applicants should bear in mind that what is in question at this stage is whether or not there are likely to be significant effects on the environment. It is not expected, that applicants will have full knowledge of every environmental effect. The information must include:

a) a description of the location of the development, including a plan sufficient to identify the area in which the development is proposed to be sited;

b) a description of the proposed development including -
i) a description of the physical characteristics of the proposed development and, where relevant, of decommissioning works;
ii) a description of the location of the proposed development, with particular regard to the environmental sensitivity of geographical areas likely to be affected;

c) a description of the aspects of the environment likely to be significantly affected by the proposed development; and,

d) a description of any likely significant effects, to the extent of the information available on such effects, of the proposed development on the environment resulting from –
i) the expected residues and emissions and the production of waste, where relevant;
ii) the use of natural resources, in particular soil, land, water and biodiversity.

The applicant may also include a description of any features of the proposed development, or proposed measures, envisaged to avoid or prevent significant adverse effects on the environment.

When compiling the above information, the EIA Regulations require the applicant to take into account, where relevant, the available results of any 'relevant assessment', which is defined in Regulation 2 of the EIA Regulations as meaning, "in relation to a proposed development, an assessment, or verification, of effects on the environment carried out pursuant to national legislation which is relevant to the assessment of the environmental impacts of the proposed development". For example, this could include the SEA of the National Marine Plan.

Consideration of a screening request

If Scottish Ministers consider that they have not been provided with sufficient information to adopt a screening opinion, they must notify the applicant, highlighting the points on which they require further information.

Under the EIA Regulations, Scottish Ministers must consult the relevant local planning authority/ies. SNH and SEPA are also likely to be consulted by the Scottish Ministers. The consultation period for screening is 3 weeks.

Scottish Ministers will issue their screening opinion within 3 weeks of the last consultation response, or such longer period not exceeding 90 days from the receipt of the screening request (in exceptional circumstances, this period may be extended). The screening opinion issued will give the reasons for Scottish Ministers' opinion on whether the project requires an EIA. If Scottish Ministers' opinion is that the project does not require an EIA, they must include information on mitigation measures being relied on in reaching their opinion. Applications proposing robust and achievable mitigation at the screening stage can be screened out of a requirement for an EIA on that basis.

A copy of the screening opinion and the reasons for the decision will be sent to the applicant and the local planning authority, and may be sent to other bodies consulted.

Scottish Ministers may adopt a screening opinion at their own volition if it is apparent that a proposed development is in fact EIA development but the application has not been accompanied by an EIA Report.

3.3.2 Scoping

Scoping is a key phase of the EIA process, providing an opportunity for the developer to identify those potentially significant environmental effects that should be considered for further assessment in the EIA Report. A developer may ask Scottish Ministers (a 'scoping request' which is supported by a scoping report) for their formal opinion on the information to be supplied in the EIA Report (a 'scoping opinion'). This provision allows the developer to be clear about what Scottish Ministers consider the potentially significant effects of the development are likely to be and, the topics on which the EIA Report should focus. The scoping report supporting the scoping request should clearly state (i.e. provide robust evidence to demonstrate) why any particular impact should be scoped in or out of the EIA.

A scoping report must include:

  • a description of the location of the development/works, including a plan sufficient to identify the area in which the works are proposed to be sited;
  • a brief description of the nature and purpose of the development/works and of its likely significant effects on the environment, and;
  • such other information or representations as the developer making the request may wish to provide or make.

As this information is similar to that required to be submitted to accompany a request for a screening opinion, an applicant may submit both requests at the same time.

The greater the detail within the scoping report, the more informative the scoping opinion. Important information includes project design parameters and details of the construction, operational and decommissioning phases as well as the proposed environmental impact assessment methodology (including data, assessment approach and determination of significance). A lack of detail in these respects can result in an increased degree of uncertainty about the potential environmental effects that could arise from a development. If detail is lacking, Scottish Ministers will scope the issue into the EIA. The developer should ask specific questions of Scottish Ministers within the scoping report relating to any areas where particular advice would be helpful.

If Scottish Ministers consider that further information is required to enable them to adopt a scoping opinion, the applicant will be asked to provide it. This request for further information will be made within 3 weeks of receipt of the scoping request.

Scottish Ministers will consult (see Annex A) on the scoping report for 30 days (or longer period as agreed between Scottish Ministers and the consultation body) before adopting their scoping opinion. MSS may also be asked by MS-LOT to provide advice on certain aspects within the scoping report or consultation responses received. Where conflicting advice is received by Scottish Ministers from different consultees, Scottish Ministers will provide an opinion on which advice should be followed.

Scoping meetings can be arranged during the consultation period with key stakeholders in order to help inform the formal scoping process. These should be agreed in advance with MS-LOT.

Scottish Ministers will adopt a scoping opinion within 5 weeks of receiving the last consultation response (or such longer period as Scottish Ministers may require). The adoption of a scoping opinion does not preclude the Scottish Ministers from requiring the applicant to provide additional information, if necessary, in relation to the EIA Report.

The scoping opinion will normally have a shelf life of 12 months from date of issue. If an EIA Report is likely to be submitted after this time period the developer should contact MS-LOT to discuss whether the scoping opinion requires updating.

Scoping is not a mandatory process. However is strongly encouraged and Scottish Ministers may adopt a scoping opinion at their own volition. The scoping opinion will be sent to the developer and the relevant local planning authority. It will also be placed on the MS-LOT website.

The content of the EIA Report must be based on, and cover the full scope of, the scoping opinion. However, MS-LOT encourages applicants through the pre-application period to ensure that they make themselves aware of the most up to date information and assessment methods.

3.3.3 Cumulative effects

The EIA Regulations state that cumulative effects should be addressed within an EIA. The scoping process can specify the plans/projects/on-going activities that need to be considered alongside the proposed development in determining cumulative/in-combination effects, or this can be agreed with the developer prior to cumulative assessment being completed for the EIA Report. The scope of the information required to enable assessment of cumulative effects should be identified within the pre-application process, together with the assessment methodologies that will be used to determine the significance of cumulative impacts. It is the responsibility of the developer to provide the information to support the assessment. Where a cumulative effects assessment is based upon an existing strategic assessment (which is the responsibility of Scottish Government under SEA Regulations) use of this existing information should also be approved at the scoping stage.

Cumulative effects can occur on a local, regional or global basis and can be additive, combined or synergistic. They are described as effects that result, or are likely to result, from additive effects caused by other past, present or reasonably foreseeable actions (e.g. in scoping), together with the plan, programme or project itself. More specifically, they are defined as pressures of the same type acting on the same receptors across defined spatial areas and temporal periods. In-combination effects are defined as pressures of a different type but acting on the same receptors. The EIA needs to examine both cumulative and in-combination effects as part of the Cumulative Effects assessment. In-combination effects in relation to HRA is discussed in section 3.3.5.

These effects are not all necessarily controlled, or controllable by the applicant and, as such, it may not be straightforward to undertake the assessment. It is strongly recommended that applicants use the scoping process to anticipate potential difficulties that may arise in the cumulative assessment and resolve what methodologies are to be used in order to avoid the potential for unresolved issues to extend the timescales of the process at a later stage.

Engagement with MS-LOT is required to identify which plans/projects/on-going activities should be included in the in-combination element of the cumulative effects assessment. When considering other offshore renewable developments in the in-combination assessment it is appropriate to use the final design of projects if these have been approved by, for example, a design specification and layout plan or a construction method statement rather than the design detailed in the s.36 consent. This allows for a more realistic in-combination assessment and assists in remedying any potential issues around wider design envelopes at the time a s.36 consent is granted. As well as other offshore renewable developments, the following activities may be included:

  • Ports and shipping;
  • Oil and gas;
  • Fishing and aquaculture;
  • Dredging; and
  • Coastal developments.

Projects will include those that are:

  • Already constructed;
  • Under construction;
  • Permitted application(s), but not yet implemented;
  • Submitted application(s) not yet determined; and
  • Plans and projects which are "reasonably foreseeable" (i.e. developments that are being planned, including, for example, offshore renewable energy projects which have a Crown Estate Agreement for Lease, offshore renewable energy projects that have been scoped).

Engagement with the local planning authorities will help identify any onshore projects which may need to be considered in the cumulative effects assessment.

3.3.4 Transboundary and cross border effects

The EIA Regulations require that if an EIA project is considered to have significant effects on the environment of another European Economic Area ("EEA") state, then Scottish Ministers must engage with that EEA state to allow consultation if that state wishes to participate. The provisions to be followed are set out in the EIA Regulations. In terms of offshore renewable energy projects in Scotland, it will relate primarily to projects that may affect mobile species, to projects that are located close to the national boundaries or to areas administered by other relevant authorities. MS-LOT will expect to see consideration of potential transboundary and cross border effects throughout the EIA from the scoping phase.

Where Scottish Ministers are required to undertake an appropriate assessment of cumulative impacts in relation to Natura interests, including transboundary and cross border effects, the developer's HRA will need to provide the required information.

3.3.5 Habitats Regulations Appraisal

It is important to consider HRA early in the pre-application process and early engagement with SNH is recommended. The HRA process is divided into a number of steps as follows:

HRA Step 1

Is the proposal directly connected with or necessary for site management for nature conservation?

It is highly unlikely that offshore renewable energy developments would be 'directly connected or necessary for site management for nature conservation' and MS-LOT will confirm that the project should be taken through to Step Two. This second step determines if a proposal has a LSE on a European site or a European offshore marine site and therefore if an AA is required (Step Three).

HRA Step 2

Is the proposal likely to have a significant effect on the site either alone or in-combination with other plans or projects?

Although commonly referred to as HRA screening, this step removes from the HRA those projects which clearly have no connectivity to qualifying interests or where it is very obvious that the proposal will not undermine the conservation objectives for these interests, despite a connection. When this screening step is undertaken at an early stage in the development process, it usually means that it takes the form of a desk-based exercise.

Step 2 of the HRA process should be undertaken and documented at the same stage of the process as EIA scoping SNH have published a useful leaflet on 'how to consider proposals affecting SACs and SPAs in Scotland (SNH, 2010) which is the basis for the following guidance. In addition to determining whether LSE can be ruled out, the objective is to provide an audit of the information used to reach the conclusion. The developer should consider in their scoping report whether there are connections between the project/proposal and any of the qualifying interests (source - pathway - receptor) for which the sites are designated (including indirect effects). If there are none, or it is clear that there are no mechanisms for interaction between the project/proposal and any of the qualifying interests despite a connection, then no LSE can be concluded. The developer should consider all possible linkages. It is possible that the proposed project could be a long distance from a European site but still have LSE. The assessment of LSE is often quite straight forward but is an important step and must be fully justified, even if the conclusion is one of no LSE.

The information gathered through Step 2 of the assessment, and contained in the scoping report, will allow Scottish Ministers to establish a good understanding of:

  • The designated sites that will potentially be affected, the Conservation Objectives, and the qualifying features for which they have been designated, e.g. threatened species of birds, seabed habitats, marine mammals, Atlantic salmon, etc;
  • The baseline data being used in the assessment and the methods being applied for the purpose of assessment;
  • A good understanding of the proposed development and the preferred methods by which the project will be achieved; and
  • Other plans and projects which could affect the integrity of the site and will require to be included under Step 3 of the HRA.

Once the above have been considered, Scottish Ministers will be in a position to adopt an opinion on whether or not the proposed development is likely to have a significant effect on any qualifying interests of European sites. This will be communicated to the applicant through the scoping opinion by MS-LOT and/or ongoing informal consultation during the EIA process.

Determination of LSE is not just a record of presence or absence of a species/ habitat at a site, but also involves a judgement as to whether any of the conservation objectives might be undermined. Such judgement is based on a simple consideration of the importance of the area in question for the relevant species/habitats. Understanding the behavioural ecology of a species, and the characteristics and context of the proposed development site, will help in determining whether there are LSE.

There are three possible conclusions for this step of HRA:

  • The likely impacts are such that there is clear potential for the conservation objectives to be undermined – conclude LSE;
  • The likely impacts are so minimal (either because the affected area is not of sufficient value for the species/habitats concerned or because the risk to them is so small) that the conservation objectives will not be undermined – conclude no LSE;
  • There is sufficient doubt about the scale of the likely impacts in terms of the conservation objectives – conclude LSE.

HRA Step 3

The requirements of this step must be considered at the pre-application stage to ensure that the application contains the necessary information for determination. The requirement is to determine whether a project will adversely affect the integrity of a European site or European offshore marine site either alone or in-combination with other plans or projects.

Step 3 of the HRA process is termed appropriate assessment, and it is undertaken by the Scottish Ministers based on information supplied by the developer, and with advice provided by SNH, and if considered appropriate by MS-LOT, other relevant consultees and MSS. The appropriate assessment considers the implications of the proposed development for the conservation objectives of the qualifying interests for which LSE has been determined. SNH's website provides details on the conservation objectives for each European site. The conservation objectives primarily offer site-based protection and some of them will not directly apply to species when they are out-with the boundaries of a European site. Developers are expected however to consider all conservation objectives and provide justification for which are considered to be not relevant.

The appropriate assessment must conclude that a project will not adversely affect the integrity of any European site or European offshore marine site either alone or in-combination with other plans or projects before consent can be granted. Scottish Ministers can only consent a project despite the potential for an adverse effect on site integrity, if the project meets 3 tests: 1) that there are no alternative solutions which are less damaging; 2) that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest to grant consent; and 3) compensation measures are put in place to ensure that the overall coherence of the network of European sites is maintained.

3.3.6 Marine Protected Area Assessment

The first step of the MPA assessment is to determine whether a project is capable of affecting (other than insignificantly) a protected feature in an MPA. This step should be done at the pre-application stage and sufficient information should be provided in the scoping report with regards to the area where the project is to be sited and the potential for effects on an MPA feature. The FEAST tool available on the Scottish Government website is useful in identifying potential impacts. Advice will be provided through the EIA scoping process on the assessment required to be included in the EIA Report.

3.3.7 European Protected Species

Certain activities in the marine environment may cause disturbance that would constitute an offence under the Habitats Regulations. It is an offence to deliberately or recklessly capture, injure or kill an EPS, and to deliberately or recklessly disturb any dolphin, porpoise or whale (cetacean) without an EPS licence.

An EPS licence application (under Regulation 44 (2) of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) or 55(6) of the OMRs 2017) may be submitted alongside marine licence and s.36 applications and should include a detailed assessment to allow MS-LOT to make a decision on whether the licence should be granted, incorporating consideration of the criteria described in section 4.4 below. If sufficient information is not available to fully inform the EPS application at the time of the s.36 / marine licence application, then the application may be made at a later date, however some consideration of EPS will be required at the time of the main application. This may pose some risk to the developer. The assessment of the application will be carried out by MS-LOT on behalf of Scottish Ministers, using the information provided by the applicant and advice from SNH. MSS may also provide advice if requested by MS-LOT. Applicants should ensure that a risk assessment as outlined in the guidance below is included as part of their application.

Mitigation measures, such as alternative methods, locations and/or times for carrying out proposed activities might in some cases be sufficient to reduce the risk of committing an offence to negligible levels. This would then negate the requirement for a licence. If the purpose of an activity relates to science, research or conservation, an applicant should approach SNH as the relevant licensing authority.

Scottish Government, in partnership with SNH, has produced guidance for Scottish inshore waters on the Protection of Marine European Protected Species from Injury and Disturbance. Full guidance on applying for EPS licences, as well as the relevant application forms, can be found online. An EPS licence may be required for some activities prior to the application for the renewable energy project, for example geophysical surveys to help inform the impact assessment. Applicants should follow JNCC guidelines for minimising the risk of injury to marine mammals from geophysical surveys. Applicants should contact MS-LOT for further advice on applying for an EPS licence.

3.3.8 Basking shark licences

Basking sharks are protected in Scotland from intentional or reckless disturbance or harassment under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. If there is a risk of disturbance or harassment that cannot be removed or sufficiently reduced by using alternatives or mitigation measures, then the activity may still go ahead under licence (Basking Shark Licence).

When submitting a basking shark application, sufficient detail should be provided to allow MS-LOT to make a decision on whether the licence should be granted. This should include consideration of the criteria described in section 4.5 (Information for basking shark licensing).

Mitigation measures, such as alternative methods, locations and/or times for carrying out proposed activities might in some cases be sufficient to reduce the risk of committing an offence to negligible levels. This could negate the requirement for a licence.

Scottish Government, in partnership with SNH, has produced guidance for Scottish inshore waters on the Protection of Marine European Protected Species from Injury and Disturbance. The guidance may be useful in identifying potential risks or impacts in relation to basking sharks, as well as guidance on the criteria described in section 4.5.

Application forms for a Basking Shark Licence can be found online. Applicants should contact MS-LOT for further advice on applying for a licence. If the purpose of an activity relates to science, research or conservation, the applicant should approach SNH as the relevant licensing authority.

3.4 Procedures to Facilitate Preparation of EIA Report

Under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, public bodies must make environmental information available to any person who requests it. The EIA Regulations supplement these provisions in cases where a developer is preparing an EIA Report. Once a developer has given Scottish Ministers notice in writing that they intend to submit an EIA Report, Scottish Ministers must inform the consultation bodies, and any other public body they consider likely to have an interest to inform them of their obligations under the EIA Regulations to make available, if requested by the developer, any relevant information in their possession. The Scottish Ministers must also notify the developer of the names and addresses of the bodies to whom they have sent such a notice.

The consultation bodies are only required to provide information already in their possession. There is no obligation on the consultation bodies to undertake research or otherwise to take steps to obtain information which they do not already have. Nor is there any obligation to make available information which is not required to be disclosed under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, although a decision to withhold particular information must be carefully considered under the terms of those Regulations. The consultation bodies may make a reasonable charge reflecting the cost of making available information requested by a developer.

3.5 MS-LOT Gate-checking

Marine Scotland expects applications for large scale renewable energy projects to go through a formal gate-check process. This includes a thorough EIA audit and science review being undertaken prior to submission of an application for s.36 consent. The gate-check process is estimated to take approximately 3 months.

This gate-check procedure aims to ensure that the EIA report and HRA are robust, meet with the scoping opinion, policy guidance and relevant quality standards. Marine Scotland and the statutory consultees have to use the scoping opinion and gate-check procedure to seek to comply with the Ministerial policy of meeting the nine month target for processing applications. Proactive engagement in these approaches will reduce the potential for Marine Scotland and statutory consultees to ask for additional information during the determination process which may cause delays and affect the ability to determine within 9 months.

If the applicant decides to bypass the gate-check procedure due to time constraint issues which apply to the project, then Marine Scotland cannot guarantee that there will be no need for additional information to the assessment report and further additional statutory consultation. In which case the 9 month handling target is not feasible.

The EIA Report, the non-technical summary, marine licence application forms, covering letter, draft public notice adverts and a gap analysis of what was requested through the scoping opinion should be submitted to MS-LOT for review. MS-LOT will inform the developer if the requirements of the EIA regulations have been met. If the requirements have been met, then the distribution arrangements for the EIA Report must be approved. MS-LOT will also confirm the application fees that are due and will approve the draft public notice advert, including the date when representations can be made (which is to appear on the adverts) (See section 4.10).

MS-LOT will need to approve the consultee list provided by the developer at the gate-checking stage. The developer should contact all agreed consultees to see whether they require electronic or hard copies of the EIA Report. MS-LOT will instruct the developer to send hard copies of the EIA Report directly to consultees who have requested a hard copy. MS-LOT will send a consultation letter, requesting comments on the application, to coincide as closely as possible with the delivery of the documentation from the developer. Developers may wish to consult with other organisations over and above those on the list approved by MS-LOT and these organisations may represent to MS-LOT through the specified mailbox. A list of organisations contacted directly by the developer should be provided to MS-LOT.


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