Sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy: strategic environmental assessment screening and scoping report

Sets out the proposed scope and level of detail for the assessment, as well as a description of the methodology.

1 Introduction

1.1 Background

1.1.1 The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring secure, reliable, and affordable energy supplies within the context of the long term decarbonisation of energy generation. Continued growth of the renewable energy sector in Scotland is an essential feature of the future energy system and offshore wind has the potential to play a pivotal role in Scotland’s energy system over the coming decades. In support of this, Marine Scotland is currently identifying potential areas of search suitable for the continued development of offshore wind energy in Scotland, including the consideration of deep water options.

1.1.2 The process of identifying areas of search will include a review of the Plan Options for offshore wind development previously contained in the Draft Sectoral Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Waters published in 2013. Together, these outputs will form the basis of a new Draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Encompassing Deep Water Options (the ‘Draft Plan’) which will provide a strategic framework for the large scale deployment of both conventional and deep water wind technologies in Scottish waters. Emerging technologies such as floating wind foundations, which offer scope for development in deeper water, have significant potential to contribute to offshore wind energy supply and may feature among the technologies that are eventually deployed.

1.1.3 The Draft Plan falls under Section 5(4) of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (‘the 2005 Act’) and is considered likely to give rise to significant environmental effects. In accordance with the requirements of the Act, a joint Screening and Scoping Report has been prepared to give preliminary consideration to the types of environmental effects that could arise from the identification of the areas of search.

1.1.4 Although the areas of search represent the first stage in the development of the Draft Plan, the present Screening/Scoping Report will refer to them as ‘the Draft Plan’ for ease of reading and to ensure consistency in the terminology used throughout all stages of the assessment.

1.2 Strategic Environmental Assessment

1.2.1 The 2005 Act requires that public plans, programmes, and strategies ( PPS) be assessed for their potential effects on the environment [1] . Undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) provides a means of identifying potentially significant environmental impacts at an early stage in the development of the PPS. SEA also considers how identified impacts can be avoided or minimised through appropriate mitigation measures and provides for engagement with stakeholders through public consultation on both the PPS as well as the findings of the assessment. This feedback is used to inform the final iteration of the plan, as summarised by the Post-Adoption Statement.

SEA and the wider assessment process

1.2.2 This SEA forms part of a wider Sustainability Appraisal ( SA) of the Draft Plan that will be undertaken, in line with the requirements of the EC Habitats [2] , Birds [3] , and Public Participation Directives [4] as well as the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 [5] . Specifically, this joint Screening and Scoping Report has been produced as part of a suite of documents that have been made available for early comment. These include:

  • a consultation document setting out the context for developing an offshore wind plan encompassing deep waters around Scotland (‘context report’);
  • a report detailing the proposed scope of the socio-economic assessment work to be carried out; and
  • a report setting out initial work on the information that will be used to inform the Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) [6] .

1.2.3 Following this initial consultation, Marine Scotland intends to deliver an overarching SA through four key, complementary initiatives: the SEA; an HRA; a socio-economic impact assessment; and public consultation on the Draft Plan.

1.3 Purpose of this Screening and Scoping Report

1.3.1 This report sets out information on the following:

  • the proposed scope and level of detail of the assessment;
  • a description of the potential methodology that may be used in the assessment;
  • a summary of the information that is likely to underlie the compilation of the environmental baseline; and
  • the prospective period of consultation on the Draft Plan and draft Environmental Report.

Information to support the screening exercise is provided in Appendix A.

1.3.2 There is potential for the Draft Plan to give rise to transboundary impacts. As such, this SEA has been undertaken in accordance with both the requirements of the 2005 Act and the 2004 Regulations [7] .

1.3.3 The views of the Consultation Authorities (Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA), Historic Environment Scotland ( HES), and Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH)), the UK consultation bodies [8] (the Environment Agency, Historic England, and Natural England), Member States of relevance, and members of the public on this combined report are now being sought.

1.4 Report structure

1.4.1 This Screening and Scoping Report is set out as follows:

  • Section 1 introduces the Draft Plan and the SEA process.
  • Section 2 provides background information on the development of the offshore wind energy sector in Scotland, including the previous site identification process.
  • Section 3 summaries a range of offshore wind energy technologies and their associated environmental impacts.
  • Section 4 sets out the proposed approach to the assessment, including potential methodology and how issues of mitigation, monitoring, reasonable alternatives, and cumulative effects are likely to be addressed.
  • Section 5 presents the broader legislative and policy context for the Draft Plan, in addition to an outline of the proposed environmental baseline to inform the subsequent assessment.
  • Section 6 provides details of the next steps in the preparation of the Draft Plan and the SEA process, including proposed consultation timescales.
  • Appendix A includes the environmental Screening Report


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