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 Appendix A SEA Screening Report

1.0 Introduction

1.1 It is considered that the Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Encompassing Deep Water Options (the ‘Draft Plan’) falls under Section 5(4) of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (‘the 2005 Act’). Given the potential scope of the plan’s geographical impacts, this joint Screening and Scoping report has also been undertaken in accordance with The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (the ‘2004 Regulations’).

2.0 Screening

2.1 This Screening Report gives a preliminary indication of the type of environmental effects that may arise from the implementation of offshore wind installations in deep waters around Scotland.

Table A1. Likely significance of identified environmental effects on environment

Criteria for determining the likely significance of the effects on the environment Likely to have significant environmental effects? Summary of significant environmental effects (negative and positive)
1(a) the degree to which the PPS sets a framework for projects and other activities, either with regard to the location, nature, size and operating conditions or by allocating resources Yes The Draft Plan forms the basis for the development of offshore wind energy in deep waters around Scotland. It is likely to do so by identifying prospective areas of search where such development could occur.
1(b) the degree to which the PPS influences other PPS including those in a hierarchy Yes The Draft Plan will inform the ongoing process of sectoral marine planning for offshore wind initiated by 2011’s Blue Seas – Green Energy: A Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters and later expanded upon by 2013’s Planning Scotland’s Seas: Draft Sectoral Marine Plans for Offshore Renewable Energy in Scottish Waters.
1(c) the relevance of the PPS for the integration of environmental considerations in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development. Yes The Draft Plan will play a key role in contributing to the collaborative action that is being taken towards decarbonising the energy sector.
1(d) environmental problems relevant to the PPS Yes Scotland’s seas face a number of threats, such as invasive species, overfishing, and changes in salinity and acidity due to climate change. However, many aspects of the marine environment remain poorly understood and are therefore not yet covered by relevant protective frameworks. As a result, the marine environment remains vulnerable to change and development. Marine planning aims to incorporate environmental considerations into the offshore development process.
1(e) the relevance of the PPS for the implementation of Community legislation on the environment (for example, PPS linked to waste management or water protection) Yes It is intended that the Draft Plan will support Scotland’s efforts in meeting its renewable energy generation targets under the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive and European level objectives relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Water protection objectives (e.g. WFD) and the principles of maritime spatial planning as laid out by EU Directive 2014/89/ EU on maritime spatial planning are also relevant to the Draft Plan.
2 (a) the probability, duration, frequency and reversibility of the effects Yes It is considered likely that the implementation of the Draft Plan will lead to environmental effects. Certain effects will occur during the lifespan of the project and may be irreversible. The frequency of effects will vary depending on the receptor and activity from which the effect arises.
2 (b) the cumulative nature of the effects Yes The Draft Plan is of national scale and provides a prospective framework within which several deep water offshore wind arrays may be installed. As such, there is potential for cumulative effects when considered across multiple sites as well as in combination with other types of marine activity, including other forms of offshore renewable development.
2 (c) transboundary nature of the effects (i.e. environmental effects on other EU Member States) No Given that deep water sites may be located some distance from shore, the potential for transboundary impacts to arise is recognised. As a result, the SEA of the Draft Plan will be undertaken in accordance with both the 2005 Act and the 2004 Regulations.
2 (d) the risks to human health or the environment (for example, due to accidents) No The Draft Plan is not expected to directly impact upon human health. However, it will be important to recognise potential hazards to other marine users.
2 (e) the magnitude and spatial extent of the effects Yes Although the exact number of areas of search is not yet known, the spatial extent of the Draft Plan is expansive, encompassing both Scottish territorial and offshore waters out to 200 nm.
2 (f) the value and vulnerability of the area likely to be affected due to- (i) special natural characteristics or cultural heritage;
(ii) exceeded environmental quality standards or limit values; or
(iii) intensive land-use.
Yes Scotland’s marine environment fulfils a multitude of functions and is recognised for its ecological and social importance. However, existing pressures make Scottish seas sensitive to further change and disturbance caused by development.

Many marine natural and cultural features are either poorly documented or are unknown. This is particularly true of deep waters. As such, there is a risk of damage or loss to natural and cultural assets including seabed habitats and offshore archaeology, seascapes, and underwater landscapes.
2 (g) the effects on areas or landscapes which have a recognised national, community or international protection status Yes Some degree of change in the visual character of landscapes or seascapes remains a possibility, with the potential for associated impacts on the visual setting of cultural heritage features as well as on residential amenity.

3.0 Conclusion

3.1 It has been concluded that the Draft Plan for identifying areas of search for offshore wind development in Scotland is likely to give rise to significant environmental effects, and as such, a full SEA is required. The views of the Consultation Authorities and UK consultation bodies are now sought, as required under the 2005 Act and the 2004 Regulations.


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