Sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy: strategic habitat regulations appraisal pre-screening report

Results of the pre-screening stages of the habitat regulations appraisal.

5 Summary and Next Stages of the HRA

5.1 Pre-screening

5.1.1 The results of the pre-screening process are set out within the tables in Appendix A. These tables summarise the findings of this analysis by showing:

  • Table A1. Identifies a list of 18 generic environmental impact pathways associated with the draft Plan that could impact interest features of European/Ramsar sites;
  • Table A2 . Presents an impact matrix of the activities, environmental changes, standard sensitivities categories and potentially affected interest features for each of the environmental impact pathways that are relevant to the draft Plan; and
  • Table A3. Indicates an initial list of European/Ramsar sites (and their interest features) to be taken forward into the subsequent screening phase of the assessment.

5.1.2 It is recognised that, due to the extensive geographical area covered by the draft Plan and the need to apply a precautionary approach, a large number of European/Ramsar sites (652) have been initially identified as part of the pre-screening review. These comprise 363 SACs, 194 SPAs, 76 Ramsar sites, 3 SCIs, 3 cSACs and 13 pSPAs. A more detailed consideration of LSE on European/Ramsar sites and interest features will be undertaken in the following screening stage.

5.2 Next Stages

5.2.1 The next stage of the HRA will be to confirm the European/Ramsar sites and interest features that could potentially be affected by the Plan following the proposed screening methods that have been presented in this report. Any ‘initial’ mitigation measures that are identified as an integral strategic component of the Plan will be applied and the Plan re-screened for LSE. It is recognised that the draft Plan will evolve as the HRA progresses and if more detail emerges about the Plan (e.g. AoS, DPO areas, possible cable alignments or landfall positions), then the HRA screening and subsequent assessment will become more focussed as appropriate. The outputs of this screening process will be documented in a Screening Report.

5.2.2 Following screening, the impacts of the Plan on the screened in European/Ramsar sites and interest features will need to be assessed. The impacts will also need to be assessed in-combination with other plans and projects. Any ‘additional’ mitigation measures that are needed to ensure that the Plan will not have an adverse effect on the integrity of any European/Ramsar sites will be identified and reviewed as part of the assessment work. The outputs of this assessment stage will be documented in an Appropriate Assessment Information Report.

5.2.3 The HRA report outputs will be designed to both inform the assessment of the Plan but also to provide a product that developers can draw upon for project-level HRA screening and assessment work.

5.2.4 There will be ongoing consultations with the PAG regarding the appropriateness of the screening and assessment methodology being adopted, the value of the outputs being produced and the validity of the conclusions reached. Final HRA report outputs will be updated in light of this consultation. The final AA will be signed off by Marine Scotland as the Competent Authority.


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