APPENDIX F: Draft HRA Record
F.1 Introduction to the Habitats Regulation Appraisal ( HRA)
F.1.1 The HRA process initially requires an appraisal of whether the components of the Pilot Plan will result in likely significant effects ( LSE) on European Sites; those sites designated under the European Habitats or Birds Directives as Special Areas for Conservation ( SACs) or Special Protection Areas ( SPAs). If it is determined that LSE on a European site may occur then the Pilot Plan will be subject to an 'appropriate assessment' ( AA) of its implications for European sites, in view of these site's conservation objectives.
F.1.2 This Appendix of this Report has been prepared as a Draft HRA Record, setting out the proposed methodology for the appraisal process of the Pilot Plan, the steps undertaken to consider the draft Pilot Plan, and discussion on the initial findings at this early stage of the HRA process. This HRA has been undertaken using guidance provided by the Scottish Government  and Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH)  which details advice on the steps and process to be followed in undertaking plan-level HRA.
F.2 Legal Context for HRA
F.2.1 Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive  requires that any plan or project which is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a European/Ramsar site (also known as a Natura 2000 site), but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to an ‘appropriate assessment’ of its implications for the Natura site, in light of the site’s conservation objectives.
F.2.2 Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the Habitats Directive, with the aim of conserving Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats and was developed to work towards their long-term survival. The network is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation ( SACs) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates Special Protection Areas ( SPAs) which are designated under the 1979 Birds Directive  . In addition, it is a matter of law that candidate SACs ( cSACs) and Sites of Community Interest ( SCI) are considered as if they were designated, and that proposed SACs ( pSACs) and proposed SPAs ( pSPAs) are considered as if they were designated. Whilst not currently a legal requirement for consideration in HRA, the draft marine SPAs published in July 2014  are expected to be issued for formal consultation in 2015. However, in the context of this HRA, these areas will also be considered as if they have been designated.
F.2.3 The Directive adds that the competent authority shall agree to the plan only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned, unless in exceptional circumstances the provisions of Article 6(4) are met. This procedure is applied in Scotland through the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended)  .
F.3 Approach to the HRA
F.3.1 As illustrated in Figure F.1, a six-step approach was developed for undertaking the HRA on the Pilot Plan, broadly reflecting the 13 stage methodology of the HRA process advocated in the SNH Guidance. This process was developed to simplify the process and customise the process to the Pilot Plan and its policies while still reflecting the requirements of the Directive and the methodology in the SNH Guidance.
F.3.2 It is noted that at this stage, the Pilot Plan and its policies are in a draft and will be subject to public consultation. As a consequence, there is the potential for changes to the Pilot Plan and/or its policies, including changes to the focus and scope of specific policies and the potential for the development of new policies for inclusion in the final Plan. As a consequence of undertaking the HRA on the draft policies and based upon the initial findings of the HRA (set out in Section F.4), only the first four steps of this process have been completed.
F.3.3 However, it is also noted that the HRA will remain open during the continued progression of the Pilot Plan and its policies, and the findings of the screening process (Step 4) will be regularly reviewed to identify the potential for impacts on the HRA process; in particular, determination of the need for undertaking an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ in the finalisation of the HRA Record (Step 5). Upon finalisation of the Pilot Plan, the final HRA Record will be prepared for issue for the publication of the final Pilot Plan (Step 6).
F.3.4 The proposed six-step process includes:
- Step 1: Decide if an HRA is required – A review of the requirement for HRA based upon the approach outlined in Stage 1 of Figure F.1, based upon Section 2 of the SNH Guidance.
- Step 2: Identify European sites – Identification of the European sites ( SACs, SPAs and Ramsar sites) that should be considered in the screening of the Pilot Plan, reflecting Stages 2 and 3 outlined in the SNH Guidance.
- Step 3: Impact pathways review and identify activities to which features are sensitive –
- Identification of the impact pathways that are relevant for each of the policies in the Pilot Plan.
- A review of the activities likely to arise from adoption of the Pilot Plan and its policies, and environmental changes which could have an impact on European/Ramsar sites or interest features via the identified impact pathways.
- Step 4: Activity-based screening of Natura Sites –
- Identification (screening) of those Natura sites and their relevant interest features for which there is a LSE, or for which a LSE cannot be excluded, from the relevant policies in the Pilot Plan and the impact pathways.
- This would also include the identification and application of mitigation measures as applicable.
- Steps 3 and 4 broadly represent Stages 5 – 7 in the process outlined in the SNH Guidance for Screening for LSE and consideration of the requirement for an Appropriate Assessment.
- Step 5: Detailed pathway-feature sensitivity review and assessment of the potential effects on European/Ramsar sites – If significant effects are likely, based upon the Screening, including after the application of mitigation measures, this step would include:
- A detailed review of the sensitivities of the relevant interest features to the identified impact pathways and activities likely to arise from adoption of the Pilot Plan and its policies.
- Undertaking an Appropriate Assessment of the policies in the Pilot Plan to identify if there are adverse effects on the integrity of European sites, both alone and in-combination with other existing plans and projects. These steps in the process represent Stages 8 and 9 in the process outlined in the SNH Guidance.
- If required, this process would be followed by the identification of available mitigation measures for each identified impact pathway and the identification of additional mitigation measures which ensure that these activities have no adverse effects on integrity ( AEOI).
- Preparation of a Draft HRA Record, representing stage 10 in the process outlined in SNH Guidance.
- Step 6: Preparation of the HRA Record – Involving consultation with SNH and other stakeholders and the public if appropriate, undertaking amendments to the HRA Record and the Plan based upon comments, and preparation of the Final HRA Record. This step broadly represents the remaining stages 11 – 13 in the process outlined in SNH Guidance.
Figure F.1 The process for undertaking the HRA of the Pilot Plan 
F.4 Summary of Initial Findings of HRA Record
Step 1: Decide if an HRA is required
F.4.1 The initial step of the HRA process involved reviewing the draft Pilot Plan to determine if an HRA was required. This step involved comparing the Plan against criteria set out in Section 2 of the SNH Guidance. As shown in Figure F.2, this review concluded that while the Pilot Plan will not be directly connected with or necessary to the management of a European site for nature conservation purposes, nor is it identified by regulations 85A or 69A, it will provide a framework for deciding applications and influencing decision-makers, as a result of being a material consideration in licencing decisions.
F.4.2 As a consequence, Marine Scotland considers that the plan should be subject to HRA.
Step 2: Identify European sites
F.4.3 The second step of the HRA process involved identifying European sites that should be considered in the screening of the Pilot Plan. This step involved researching the sites and qualifying interests that could be subject to LSE from the Pilot Plan.
F.4.4 An initial list of sites to be screened has been compiled and this is presented in Annex F1. At this stage of the process, and given the proposed strategic focus of the Pilot Plan, a review of these sites is useful to aid the consideration of potential impact pathways in the next step of the process; however, depending on the findings of this screening, a more detailed analysis and appraisal of these sites may be required.
Steps 3 – 4: Impact pathways review and identification of activities to which qualifying features are sensitive, and Activity-based screening of European/Ramsar Sites
F.4.5 The next two steps of the process involved the identification of impact pathways associated with the draft Pilot Plan and the general and sectoral policies contained within it. This work relied heavily on work undertaken on the SEA of the draft Pilot Plan being conducted in parallel to the HRA, and was also informed by previous SEAs and recent HRAs undertaken for the Scottish marine environment; notably the Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Renewables, the National Marine Plan ( NMP), Marine Protected Areas ( MPAs)  , amongst others. For example, these assessments informed the consideration of known pathways and known likely distances for movement of Natura qualifying species.
F.4.6 From this, the following potential impact pathways were identified:
- Physical loss of habitats from removal or smothering.
- Physical damage to habitats and species from siltation, erosion or physical injury/death.
- Non-physical (indirect) disturbance from noise or visual presence and reduced availability or displacement of species, including prey.
- Toxic contamination from the introduction of synthetic compounds or non-synthetic contaminants.
- Non-toxic contamination from nutrient enrichment, organic enrichment, changes in suspended sediment and turbidity, changes in salinity or changes to the thermal regime.
- Biological disturbance from introduction of microbial pathogens, the introduction of invasive non-native species and translocation, or from selective extraction of selected species.
F.4.7 In line with the SNH guidance, the Pilot Plan is required to undergo screening with the purpose to:
“a) Identify all aspects of the plan which would have no effect on a European site, so that they can be eliminated from further consideration in respect of this and other plans;
b) identify all aspects of the plan which would not be likely to have a significant effect on a European site (i.e. would have some effect but minor residual), either alone or in combination with other aspects of the same plan or other plans or projects, which therefore do not require ‘appropriate assessment’; and
c) identify those aspects of the plan where it is not possible to rule out the risk of significant effects on a European site, either alone or in combination with other plans or projects. This provides a clear scope for the parts of the plan that will require appropriate assessment.” 
F.4.8 After identifying the relevant impact pathways, a review of the activities detailed in the Pilot Plan and its general and sectoral policies was undertaken. This involved undertaking a Screening of the Plan and its policies ‘alone’ as outlined in Appendix C of SNH Guidance  . This screening process focused on General Policies 1 – 9 and Sectoral Policies 1 – 10 contained within the draft Pilot Plan, to consider the potential for effects on European sites from each.
F.4.9 The findings of the Screening are presented in Table F.1 and summarised in Section F.5.
Figure F.2 Deciding if a plan should be subject to HRA 
Table F.1 Screening of the General and Sectoral Policies for the likelihood of a significant effect on European Sites identified in the HRA 
|Criteria for screening||Relevant parts of the plan
|Reason(s) for inclusion in the respective sections of this table and LSE|
|General policy statements (Step 1 in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||General Policies
7 (Integrating Coastal and Marine Development)
8B (Waste and Marine Litter)
|These policies were considered to be statements of general policy.
As such, there will be no LSE on a European site.
|A general criteria based policy (Step 1 in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||General Policies
1A (Sustainable Development)
1B (Supporting Sustainable Social and Economic Benefits)
1C (Safeguarding the Marine Ecosystem)
2 (Wellbeing and Quality of Life of Coastal Communities)
3 (Climate Change)
4C (Wider Biodiversity)
5B (Coastal Processes and Flooding)
|These policies were considered to be statements of general policy outlining broad criteria.
As such, there will be no LSE on a European site.
|Aspects excluded from the appraisal because they are not proposals generated by this plan (Step 2 in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||Sectoral Policies
4 (Renewable Energy Generation)
|These policies reiterate existing policy and requirements for aquaculture and renewable energy (i.e. detailed in Local development Plans ( LDPs) and Supplementary Guidance, Sectoral Marine Plans for Renewable Energy, current consenting processes, etc.) and are not considered to contain proposals generated by the Pilot Plan.
As such, there will be no LSE on a European site from these policies.
|Aspects which protect the natural environment, including biodiversity, or conserve or enhance the natural, built or historic environment (Step 3a in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||General Policies
4A (Nature Conservation Designations)
4B (Protected Species )
4D (Landscape and Seascape)
5A (Water Environment)
6 (Historic Environment)
9 (Invasive Non-native Species)
|These policies will provide additional safeguards to protect the natural and historic environment. As a consequence, there will be no LSE on a European site from these policies.|
|Aspects which will not lead to development or other change (Step 3b in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||None||None.|
|Aspects which make provision for change but which could have no conceivable effect on a European site, because there is no link or pathway between them and the qualifying interests, or any effect would be a positive effect, or would not otherwise undermine the conservation objectives for the site (Step 3c in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||None||None.|
|Aspects which make provision for change but which could have no significant effect on a European site (minor residual effects), because any potential effects would be so restricted that they would not undermine the conservation objectives for the site (Step 3d in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||None||None.|
|Aspects which are too general so that it is not known where, when or how the aspect of the plan may be implemented, or where any potential effects may occur, or which European sites, if any, may be affected (Step 3e in Appendix C of SNH Guidance)||Sectoral Policies
1 (Commercial Fisheries)
3 (Oil and Gas)
5 (Recreation, Sport, Leisure and Tourism)
6 (Marine Transport)
7 (Ports and Harbours)
8 (Pipelines, Electricity and Telecommunications Infrastructure)
9 (Marine Aggregates)
|At this stage the exact location of new infrastructure and/or activities associated with the sectors described in these policies cannot be determined and cannot be linked with certainty to specific European sites. Therefore, at the current stage of development, these policies are considered too general to reasonably consider LSE either alone or in combination.
However, whilst at this stage, links or pathways between the policy and specific European sites cannot be identified, there is potential for future development to have LSE when its location is determined. It is therefore recommended that in any further planning or proposals at the project level that identify specific locations, further HRA Screening is undertaken as a minimum.
|LSE to go forward to AA||None||None|
Steps 5 – 6: Detailed pathway-feature sensitivity review and Assessment of the potential effects on European/Ramsar sites, and Preparation of the HRA Record
F.4.10 At this stage, the Pilot Plan and its Policies have been presented as a consultation draft. Based upon the outcomes of the public consultation process, the Pilot Plan and its policies will be subject to review, and where necessary, revision. The HRA process, including progression of Steps 5 – 6 (if required), will continue until finalisation of the Pilot Plan and its policies, whereby a Final HRA Record will be prepared and agreed prior to adoption of the Plan.
F.5 Summary of Current Findings
F.5.1 The general policies included in the draft Pilot Plan are safeguarding or mitigating policies. As outlined in Table F.1, they are general in direction and apply to all activities and development in the PFOW marine environment. In consequence, no connectivity or direct pathway for impact has been identified between these policies and specific European sites; and as such, none of the general policies are considered to have a LSE on a specific European site.
F.5.2 As presented in Table F.1, the majority of the sectoral policies in the draft Pilot Plan are also general in direction, and do not direct development or activities to a particular location, nor do they promote an action that clearly has a link or pathway to potential effects on specific European sites. As such, at this initial stage, these policies have been screened out of the process. Two of the sectoral policies (relating to aquaculture and renewable energy) were considered to reiterate existing policy and contained proposals that have been generated and assessed under other plans. As a consequence, both policies were also screened out of the assessment.
F.5.3 In conclusion, the review of both the general and sectoral policies found that the policies in the draft Pilot Plan will have no LSE on any European sites.
F.6 HRA iterations as the Pilot Plan Progresses
F.6.1 At this stage of the Plan development process, the Pilot Plan and its policies are to be published as a draft for public consultation. Upon completion of the consultation period, the Pilot Plan and its policies will be subject to review, and based upon the outcomes of the consultation process, the Plan and/or its policies may be subject to revision including the potential for the development of new policies for inclusion in the final Plan. Alongside the finalisation of the Pilot Plan, the HRA process will remain open and the findings of the Draft HRA Record will be regularly reviewed and revised where necessary to consider any subsequent changes in the Pilot Plan and its policies.
F.6.2 Should the findings outlined in this Draft HRA Record change, particularly if a decision is taken that an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ is required, the HRA will be progressed to Step 5 as outlined in Section F.3 (i.e. Step 5: Detailed pathway-feature sensitivity review and assessment of the potential effects on European/Ramsar sites).
F.6.3 Upon completion of the HRA process, a Final HRA Record will be prepared and agreed based upon the finalisation of the Pilot Plan and its policies (Step 6: Preparation of the HRA Record). This will be issued alongside publication of the final Pilot Plan.
F.7 Initial In-combination Assessment
F.7.1 As the draft general and sectoral policies have been ‘screened out’ at this stage of the development of the Pilot Plan due to either being general policy statements, containing aspects protecting the natural and historic environment, containing proposals that have not been generated by the Pilot Plan, or containing aspects that are general so that it is not known how they will be implemented of whether potential effects may occur to any European site, no in-combination assessment is required for the Pilot Plan at this time.
F.7.2 As noted in Section F.6, should the findings outlined in this Draft HRA Record change due to changes in the Pilot Plan and its policies, particularly if a decision is taken that an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ is required, an in-combination assessment will be undertaken.
|Special Protection Areas ( SPAs)|
|Relevant sites||Auskerry SPA, Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands SPA and Ramsar, Caithness Lochs SPA and Ramsar, Calf of Eday SPA, Cape Wrath SPA, Copinsay SPA, East Caithness Cliffs SPA, East Sanday Coast SPA, Fionaven SPA, Hoy SPA, Marwick Head SPA, North Caithness Cliffs SPA, North Orkney dSPA, North Sutherland Coastal Islands SPA, Orkney Mainland Moors SPA, Orkney Mainland Moors SPA, Papa Westray (North Hill and Holm) SPA, Pentland Firth and Scapa Flow Orkney dSPA, Pentland Firth Islands SPA, Rousay SPA, Sule Skerry and Sule Stack SPA, Switha SPA, West Westray SPA|
|Species||Arctic skua ( Stercorarius parasiticus), breeding; Arctic tern ( Sterna paradisaea), breeding; Black-throated diver ( Gavia arctica), breeding; Breeding bird assemblage; Common eider ( Somateria mollissima); Common goldeneye ( Bucephala clangula); Common scoter ( Melanitta nigra), breeding; Cormorant ( Phalacrocorax carbo), breeding; Dunlin ( Calidris alpina schinzii), breeding; Fulmar ( Fulmarus glacialis), breeding; Gannet ( Morus bassanus), breeding; Golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos), breeding; Golden plover ( Pluvialis apricaria), breeding; Great black-backed gull ( Larus marinus), breeding; Great northern diver ( Gavia immer); Great skua ( Stercorarius skua), breeding; Greenland Barnacle goose ( Branta leucopsis), non-breeding; Greenland white-fronted goose ( Anser albifrons flavirostris), non-breeding; Greenshank ( Tringa nebularia), breeding; Greylag goose ( Anser anser), non-breeding; Guillemot ( Uria aalge), breeding; Hen harrier ( Circus cyaneus), breeding and non-breeding; Herring gull ( Larus argentatus), breeding; Kittiwake ( Rissa tridactyla), breeding; Leach's petrel ( Oceanodroma leucorhoa), breeding; Long-tailed duck ( Clangula hyemalis); Merlin ( Falco columbarius), breeding; Peregrine ( Falco peregrinus), breeding; Puffin ( Fratercula arctica), breeding; Razorbill ( Alca torda), breeding; Red-breasted merganser ( Mergus serrator); Red-throated diver ( Gavia stellata), breeding; Seabird assemblage, breeding; Shag ( Phalacrocorax aristotelis), breeding; Short-eared owl ( Asio flammeus), breeding; Slavonian grebe ( Podiceps auritus); Storm petrel ( Hydrobates pelagicus), breeding; Velvet Scoter ( Melanitta fusca); Whooper swan ( Cygnus cygnus), non-breeding; Wigeon ( Anas penelope), breeding; Wood sandpiper ( Tringa glareola), breeding|
|Conservation objectives for all qualifying interests and sites||To avoid deterioration of the habitats of the qualifying species or significant disturbance to the qualifying species, thus ensuring that the integrity of the site is maintained; and
To ensure for the qualifying species that the following are maintained in the long term:
|Additional Information||The sites and species listed above have been included based upon geographical relevance, alongside the consideration of previous HRA work undertaken by Marine Scotland including the Sectoral Plans for Offshore Renewables and the Marine Renewables Infrastructure Plan ( MRIP).
However, in addition to the sites and species listed above, it was noted that many seabird species can travel long distances to reach foraging or feeding grounds. As a consequence, while not listed above, the potential for LSE on mobile bird species that are features of SPAs out with the PFOW area that may travel to or through the PFOW area to forage or for migration was also identified as an important consideration of the HRA Screening process.
|Special Areas of Conservation ( SACs) and Ramsar sites|
|Relevant Sites||Berriedale and Langwell Waters SAC, Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands SAC and Ramsar, Cape Wrath SAC, Durness SAC, Faray and Holm of Faray SAC, Hoy SAC, Invernaver SAC, Loch of Isbister SAC, Loch of Stenness SAC, River Borgie SAC, River Naver SAC, River Thurso SAC, Sanday SAC, Strathy Point SAC, Stromness Heaths and Coast SAC, Moray Firth SAC.|
|Habitats||Acid peat-stained lakes and ponds, Alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands, Alpine and subalpine heaths, Base-rich fens, Blanket bog, Calcium-rich nutrient-poor lakes, lochs and pools, Clear-water lakes or lochs with aquatic vegetation and poor to moderate nutrient levels, Coastal dune heathland, Depressions on peat substrates, Dry heaths, Dune grassland, Dunes with creeping willow, Dunes with juniper thickets, Hard-water springs depositing lime, Humid dune slacks, Intertidal mudflats and sandflats, Lagoons, Limestone pavements, Naturally nutrient-rich lakes or lochs which are often dominated by pondweed, Plants in crevices on base-rich rocks, Shifting dunes with marram, Subtidal sandbanks, Tall herb communities, Vegetated sea cliffs, Very wet mires often identified by an unstable 'quaking' surface, Wet heathland with cross-leaved heath.|
|Species||Atlantic salmon ( Salmo salar), Freshwater pearl mussel ( Margaritifera margaritifera), Grey seal ( Halichoerus grypus), Harbour seal ( Phoca vitulina), Marsh saxifrage ( Saxifraga hirculus), Otter ( Lutra lutra), Bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncates), Harbour porpoise ( Phocoena phocoena).|
|Conservation objectives for all qualifying interests and sites||To avoid deterioration of the qualifying habitats thus ensuring that the integrity of the site is maintained and the site makes an appropriate contribution to achieving favourable conservation status for each of the qualifying features; and To ensure for the qualifying habitats that the following are maintained in the long term:
|Additional Comments||The sites listed above have been included based upon geographical relevance, and with the consideration of previous HRA work undertaken by Marine Scotland including the Sectoral Plans for Offshore Renewables and the Marine Renewables Infrastructure Plan ( MRIP). Coastal habitats and mobile species, particularly Grey and Harbour seals, bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic salmon, were noted to be of particular relevance amongst SACs to the draft Pilot Plan and its HRA. In addition to places used regularly for feeding, breeding, raising calves and socialising, locations where associated and supporting activities such as hunting, courtship, singing, calving, nursing, resting, playing and communication take place were identified as being important considerations. However, it is noted that many migratory species and marine mammals have extensive ranges and cover very large distances to forage in the pelagic environment. For example, cetaceans such as the Bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncates) recognised in the Moray Firth SAC are known to travel significantly along the Scottish coastline, and are likely to frequent the PFOW area. Similarly, other species including Harbour and Grey seals and other cetaceans such as Harbour porpoise out with the PFOW area are also known to frequent the Pilot Plan area, and as such, were identified as important considerations of the HRA process. As a consequence, while not listed above, the potential for LSE on mobile species that are features of SACs out with the PFOW area that may travel to or through the PFOW area, or for migration, was also identified as an important consideration of the HRA process.|
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