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.

4. Consultation

4.1.1 The draft Plan and SA were published for statutory consultation, in accordance with the Strategic Environment (Scotland) Act 2005, for a period of 14 weeks between 18 December 2019 and 25 March 2020. Eighteen consultation events took place during February and March 2020, to raise awareness of the consultation and discuss the draft Plan and SA in detail with stakeholders. The full outputs of this consultation process can be found in the Consultation Analysis Report[6] and the full consultation responses are available to view on the Citizen Space consultation hub page.[7]

4.1.2 The Post Adoption Statement (2020) sets out in detail the changes made between the draft and final Plans and Table 5 below provides a summary of the most relevant amendments made to the Plan:

Table 5 Summary of amendments to DPOs and Plan-level mitigation measures between the draft and final Plans

DPO/Policy: DPO SW1

Amendment(s) made:

Not progressed as a final PO - due to concerns regarding potential scale of negative socio-economic impacts (including potential negative seascape, landscape and visual impacts)

DPO/Policy: DPO W1

Amendment(s) made:

Total boundary reduced in order to mitigate potential impacts on a range of sectors (e.g. commercial shipping, seascape, landscape and coastal character).

DPO/Policy: DPOs N1, N2, N3, N4, NE4, NE6, E2 and E3

Amendment(s) made:

No amendments made to boundaries.

DPO/Policy: DPO NE1

Amendment(s) made:

Boundary amended to reduce overlap with the Shetland Island Council's works licensing area.

DPO/Policy: DPOs NE2, NE3, NE7, NE8 and E1

Amendment(s) made:

Boundaries amended to avoid areas of highest existing commercial fishing activity.

DPO/Policy: DPO NE5

Amendment(s) made:

Not progressed as a final PO- due to potential cumulative impacts.

DPO/Policy: Definition of commercial-scale offshore wind

Amendment(s) made:

Definition of commercial-scale offshore wind retained as "projects being capable of generating more than 100 MW of electricity'.

DPO/Policy: DPOs classed as, 'being subject to high levels of ornithological constraint' (E3, NE2-NE6)

Amendment(s) made:

DPO NE5 has not been progressed as a final PO and is therefore removed from this category.

Inconsistencies in the wording regarding this mitigation measure between the SA, HRA and Plan documents were highlighted by respondents, including the shift away from the term 'temporal mitigation'.

This mitigation measure has been retained, however, the text in the final Plan makes clear that it will be possible for a developer to submit an application for licence/consent for these POs before the mitigation measure is removed at a Plan-level (i.e. via the iterative plan review process). Regulatory approval/consent, however, may only be granted in these instances, if it can be concluded that there would no AEOSI, or if Scottish Ministers opt to pursue a derogation under the Habitats Regulations.

DPO/Policy: DPOs classed as 'being subject to the need for regional-level survey' (E1 and E2)

Amendment(s) made:

POs E1 and E2 remain subject to this mitigation measure.

Respondents provided comments regarding the potential scope of the required survey and assessment work and Option Agreement holders will be expected to carry out this survey and assessment work as directed by Marine Scotland, following further discussion with the Ornithology Working Group (to be established upon adoption of the Plan).

Developers are able to pursue a licence/consent application without first completing the regional-level survey and assessment work, however, it is likely that the Responsible Authority would be unable to conclude no AEOSI with any reasonable certainty and further survey and assessment would be required (unless Scottish Ministers opt to pursue a derogation under the Habitats Regulations).



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