Publication - Strategy/plan

Sectoral marine plan: appropriate assessment

Assessment of the implications of the sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy for designated special areas of conservation special protection areas, candidate special areas of conservation and proposed special protection areas in view of the sites' conservation objectives.

Sectoral marine plan: appropriate assessment
8. Background information and qualifying interests for the relevant Natura sites

8. Background information and qualifying interests for the relevant Natura sites

8.1.1 The screening process identified a total 468 European/Ramsar sites for which there was LSE (or where the potential for LSE could not be excluded). This comprises of a total of 267 SACs, SCIs and cSACs, 150 SPAs and pSPAs and a further 51 Ramsar sites with qualifying feature interests which were screened in. The relevant qualifying features within these sites included a range of coastal, intertidal and sublittoral habitats. Habitats within SPAs also warrant consideration and are considered in this AA (dealing with impacts to seabird features).

8.1.2 During the previous HRAs for the Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Waters and the Draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy (ABPmer, 2011a: 2017) it was agreed with the overseeing Project Steering Group that it was not possible to identify and review the individual and specific objectives for each European/Ramsar site, because of the large number of sites screened into the assessment. Therefore, a series of typical and generic objectives were identified which could be applied across all European/Ramsar sites. The same approach has been taken in this instance.

8.1.3 This section provides links to the SNH Interactive website, where background information on the sites being considered in this assessment is available. The qualifying interests for the sites are listed below at Table 5 and the conservation objectives at Table 6.

8.1.4 The Figures provided at Annex 3 detail the SPA, pSPA, cSAC and SAC screened in to the assessment for each DPO.

Table 9 Name of Natura sites affected and current status

Details of the Natura sites which were screened in to the assessment are provided in Table C1 of the HRA Report.[19]

Appendix D of the HRA Report provides details of the Natura sites and qualifying interests screened in per DPO.[20]

Table 10 European qualifying interests

SAC and cSAC:

  • Morphological features encompassing a range of habitats;
  • Estuaries (1130) which will encompass sub-feature habitats such as saltmarsh, eelgrass, mussel beds, as well as many other Annex I habitats (cited separately below); and
  • Large shallow inlets and bays (1160) which, as with estuaries, encompass a range of other feature and sub-feature habitats.
  • Sub-tidal habitats with typically soft-sediment habitat;
  • Subtidal sandbanks (i.e. sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater at all time' 1110)
  • Subtidal habitats with typically hard-substratum habitat:
    • Reefs (1170);
    • Submarine structures made by leaking gases (1180); and
    • Submerged or partially submerged sea caves (8330).
  • Intertidal habitats (including saltmarshes):
    • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (i.e. 'Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide' 1140);
  • Annual vegetation of drift lines (1210);
  • Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand (1310);
  • Spartina swards (1320);
  • Atlantic salt meadows (1330); and
  • Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs.
  • Supralittoral habitats:
  • Coastal lagoons (1150);
  • Supralittoral dune habitats encompassing the following
    • 2130 Fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation (`grey dunes`);
    • 2150 Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes Calluno-Ulicetea;
    • 2170 Dunes with Salix repens spp. argentea Salicion arenariae;
    • 2250 Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp;
    • 2120 Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria (`white dunes`);
  • Perennial vegetation of stony banks (1220);
  • Vegetated sea cliffs.
  • Harbour seal Phoca vitulina;
  • Grey seal Halichoerus grypus;
  • Bottlenose dolphin Tursips truncatus;
  • Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena;
  • Atlantic salmon Salmo salar;
  • Sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus;
  • River lamprey Lampreta fluviatilis;
  • Allis shad Alosa alosa;
  • Twaite shad Alosa fallax; and
  • Freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera.

SPA and pSPA:

  • Arctic skua: Stercorarius parasiticus
  • Arctic tern: Sterna paradisaea
  • Atlantic puffin: Fratercula arctica
  • Barnacle goose: Branta leucopsis
  • Bar-tailed godwit: Limosa lapponica
  • Black (common) scoter: Melanitta nigra
  • Black-legged kittiwake: Rissa tridactyla
  • Black-tailed godwit: Limosa limosa islandica
  • Black-throated diver: Gavia arctica
  • Common eider: Somateria mollissima
  • Common goldeneye: Bucephala clangula
  • Common greenshank: Tringa nebularia
  • Common guillemot: Uria aalge
  • Common pochard: Aythya ferina
  • Common redshank: Tringa totanus
  • Common shelduck: Tadorna tadorna
  • Common tern: Sterna hirundo
  • Corn crake: Crex crex
  • Dunlin: Calidris alpina alpina
  • Dunlin: Calidris alpina schinzii
  • Eurasian curlew: Numenius arquata
  • Eurasian oystercatcher: Haematopus ostralegus
  • Eurasian teal: Anas crecca
  • Eurasian wigeon: Anas penelope
  • European golden plover: Pluvialis apricaria
  • European shag: Phalacrocorax aristotelis
  • European storm-petrel: Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Golden eagle: Aquila chrysaetos
  • Goosander: Mergus merganser
  • Great black-backed gull: Larus marinus
  • Great cormorant: Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Great crested grebe: Podiceps cristatus
  • Great northern diver: Gavia immer
  • Great skua: Catharacta skua
  • Greater scaup: Aythya marila
  • Greenland white-fronted goose: Anser albifrons flavirostris
  • Grey plover: Pluvialis squatarola
  • Greylag goose: Anser anser
  • Hen harrier: Circus cyaneus
  • Herring gull: Larus argentatus
  • Leach's Storm Petrel: Oceanodroma leucorhoa
  • Lesser black-backed gull: Larus fuscus
  • Light-bellied brent goose: Branta bernicla hrota
  • Little egret: Egretta garzetta
  • Little gull: Larus minutus
  • Little tern: Sterna albifrons
  • Long-tailed duck: Clangula hyemalis
  • Mallard: Anas platyrhynchos
  • Manx shearwater: Puffinus puffinus
  • Mediterranean gull: Larus melanocephalus
  • Mew gull: Larus canus
  • Northern fulmar: Fulmarus glacialis
  • Northern gannet: Morus bassanus
  • Northern lapwing: Vanellus vanellus
  • Northern pintail: Anas acuta
  • Northern shoveler: Anas clypeata
  • Pale-bellied Brent Goose: Branta bernicla hrota
  • Osprey: Pandion haliaetus
  • Pink-footed goose: Anser brachyrhynchus
  • Purple sandpiper: Calidris maritima
  • Razorbill: Alca torda
  • Red knot: Calidris canutus
  • Red-breasted merganser: Mergus serrator
  • Red-necked phalarope: Phalaropus lobatus
  • Red-throated diver: Gavia stellata
  • Ringed plover: Charadrius hiaticula
  • Roseate tern: Sterna dougallii
  • Ruddy turnstone: Arenaria interpres
  • Ruff: Philomachus pugnax
  • Sanderling: Calidris alba
  • Sandwich tern: Sterna sandvicensis
  • Seabird assemblage:
  • Slavonian grebe: Podiceps auritus
  • Tufted duck: Aythya fuligula
  • Tundra swan: Cygnus columbianus bewickii
  • Velvet scoter: Melanitta fusca
  • Whimbrel: Numenius phaeopus
  • Whooper swan: Cygnus cygnus

Table 11 Conservation objectives

During the previous HRAs for the Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Waters and the Draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy (ABPmer, 2011a: 2017) it was agreed with the overseeing Project Steering Group that it was not possible to identify and review the individual and specific objectives for each European/Ramsar site, because of the large number of sites screened into the assessment. Therefore, a series of typical and generic objectives were identified which could be applied across all European/Ramsar sites. The same approach has been taken in this instance.

The following conservation objections have been used in the assessment:

Coastal and marine habitat features:

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 the site makes an appropriate contribution to achieving favourable conservation status for each of the qualifying features; and

To ensure that for qualifying habitats the following are maintained in the long term;

  • Extent of the habitat within the site;
  • Distribution of habitat within the site;
  • Structure and function of the habitat;
  • Processes supporting the habitat;
  • Distribution of typical species of the habitat;
  • Viability of typical species as components of the habitat; and
  • No significant disturbance of the habitat.

Marine mammal qualifying interests:

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;

  • Population of the species as a viable component of the site;
  • Distribution of the species within site;
  • Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species;
  • Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the species; and
  • No significant disturbance of the species.

Fish and freshwater pearl mussel qualifying features:

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 the site makes an appropriate contribution to achieving favourable conservation status for each of the qualifying features; and

To ensure that for qualifying habitats the following are maintained in the long term;

  • Population of the species, including range of genetic types for salmon, as a viable component of the site;
  • Distribution of the species within site;
  • Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species;
  • Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the species;
  • No significant disturbance of the species;
  • Distribution and viability of the species' host species (e.g. freshwater pearl mussel); and
  • Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the species' host species.

Seabird qualifying features:

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 that for qualifying habitats the following are maintained in the long term;

  • Population of the species as a viable component of the site;
  • Distribution of the species within site;
  • Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species;
  • Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the species; and
  • No significance disturbance of the species.
Figure 7 SAC, cSAC and SCI sites; Migratory Fish and Freshwater Pearl Mussel Interest Features (Screening map
Map showing the SAC, candidate SAC, Sites of Community Importance; Migratory Fish and Freshwater Pearl Mussel Interest Features and the Screening zone applied during the appraisal process.

Contact

Email: sectoralmarineplanning@gov.scot