7. Amendments made to Appropriate Assessment following consultation with SNH
7.1.1 Consultation on draft AA was undertaken with SNH prior to adoption on 25 September 2020 (in accordance with the guidance noted above) and responded on 30 September 2020, providing a for statement of support for, and agreement with, the conclusions drawn in the draft AA.
7.1.2 SNH highlighted a number of minor points which require updates to be made to the draft AA, however, it confirmed its agreement with the broad conclusions of the AA are not dependent on these comments being addressed. Officials are currently working to address these comments, prior to the anticipated publication of the final Plan. An excerpt from their formal statement of support is provided below for reference,
"While we offer a few minor comments below, we are pleased to be able to agree with the conclusion of the Assessment (as set out in S1.4 and S15) that there will be no adverse effect on the site integrity of any European sites or European marine sites arising from the Plan, either in isolation or in-combination with other plans or projects, providing that the mitigation set out in S1.4.1 and S16 of this AA is adhered to.
In addition we are pleased to offer our strong support for the proposed establishment of an Ornithological Working Group (OWG), including the remit set out for it in S2.5, for the process proposed for iterative plan review and update, as set out in S2.4-2.7, and for the planned governance structure described in S2.5.
Other than that:
- We agree with the removal from the Plan of DPOs SW1 and NE5 and with your contention that, in spite of removal of DPO NE5, DPO NE6 should still be subject to the plan level mitigation identified for DPOs E3, NE2, NE3 and NE4.
- We fully support the 'central principle', set out in S15.1.4: "there needs to be a clear process for the implementation of the Plan. In particular, the process needs to involve a phased and iterative process to further offshore wind deployment, linked to ongoing monitoring and research effort"."
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