Sectoral marine plan for offshore wind energy: social and economic impact assessment scoping report

Sets out the methodology and scenarios for scoping and undertaking a socio-economic impact assessment.

A.3. Aviation

A.3.1 Sector Definition

This sector relates to civil aviation, which comprises scheduled air transport (including all passenger and cargo flights operating on regularly scheduled routes) and general aviation (including all other civil flights, private or commercial). Military aviation is covered separately in the Military Activity Section.

A.3.2 Overview of Activity

Aviation forms a critical component of Scotland's economy by providing direct access to markets as well as providing lifeline services to otherwise inaccessible settlements throughout the mountainous and island terrain ( ABPmer, RPA and SQW, 2011). Helicopter routes are also important in servicing offshore oil and gas installations.

Major airports (aerodromes) located in Scotland include Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Glasgow Prestwick, while minor airports include: Stornaway, Benbecula, Barra, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, Islay, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Wick John O'Groats, Kirkwall and Sumburgh. The 2015 air transport statistics are shown in Table A.3.1 for airports for which statistics were available from Transport Scotland.

Table A.3.1 Air transport statistics for Scottish airports in 2015

Airport Air Transport Movements Terminal Passengers (thousand) Freight (tonnes)
Aberdeen 106,755 3,469 6,545
Barra 881 11 19
Benbecula 3,286 32 313
Campbeltown 1,123 8 -
Dundee 1,543 22 -
Edinburgh 106,748 11,113 19,322
Glasgow 75,585 8,710 13,193
Glasgow Prestwick 8,623 610 11,242
Inverness 14,425 668 2,507
Islay 1,739 29 288
Kirkwall 12,951 150 94
Lerwick 1,748 4 -
Scatsta 13,338 254 702
Stornoway 8,644 125 1,173
Sumburgh 13,606 270 998
Tiree 1,111 10 44
Unst - 0 -
Wick John O'Groats 4,276 24 1

Source: Transport Scotland 2017

It was estimated in 2016 that Edinburgh Airport contributes nearly £1 billion to the Scottish economy annually and supports more than 23,000 jobs in Scotland [11] . For Glasgow Prestwick Airport, in 2012 it was estimated that the airport's total annual contribution to the Scottish economy was £61.6 million through a total of 1,810 jobs directly or indirectly associated with the airport (York Aviation, 2012). In 2010, Glasgow Airport was assessed as contributing nearly £200 million to Scotland's economy and supported nearly 4,500 jobs directly and over 7,300 in Scotland as a whole (York Aviation, 2010 cited in Glasgow Airport Draft Master Plan, 2011). At the time of writing, no more recent estimates of economic contribution for Glasgow Prestwick or Glasgow Airports were sourced.

Figure A.3.1 shows civil aviation aerodromes, helicopter rescue centres and stations and helicopter main routes ( HMRs) [12] in Scotland, where information was available. National Air Traffic Services ( NATS) provides air traffic control services to aircraft flying in UK airspace, and over the Eastern part of the North Atlantic. The locations of radar installations, where known, are also provided in Figure A.3.1.

With regard to future trends in aviation, air traffic movement ( ATM) forecasts for two main airports in in Scotland, are shown in Table A.3.2.

Figure A.3.1 Civil aviation aerodromes and infrastructure
Figure A.3.1 Civil aviation aerodromes and infrastructure

Table A.3.2 Forecasts for Air transport Movements (million people per annum)













Source: Department for Transport 2017

Information sources that can be used in the assessment are listed in Table A.3.3.

Table A.3.3 Information sources for the civil aviation sector

Data Available Information Source
Licensed aerodromes ( UK) CAA Aerodromes and boundary maps
Primary radar, secondary radar, air-ground-air communications, navigation aids, NATS safeguarding zones ( UK) NATS Self-assessment maps
Main helicopter routes ( UK) Aeronautical Information Publication ( NATS website)
Passenger and freight statistics (Scotland) Transport Scotland: Scottish Transport Statistics No 35 – datasets
Air Passenger Demand Forecasts ( UK including Scotland) Gov. UK: UK aviation forecasts 2017

A.3.3 Potential Interactions with Offshore Wind

Table A.3.4 shows potential interaction pathways between aviation and offshore wind arrays and export cables. Based on the approach to scoping described in Section 2 in the main report, the table also records whether the interaction:

  • Is not likely to result in a significant socio-economic impact on the sector; or
  • Is likely to result in a significant socio-economic impact on the sector and hence will require a detailed assessment.

The rationale underlying this expert judgement is provided in the table. Where it is not currently possible to make a judgement regarding the likelihood of a significant socio-economic impact due to insufficient information (for example, in relation to the extent of overlap between a sector activity and the DPO Areas) the table indicates that scoping will be required to be undertaken once sufficient information becomes available. There are not expected to be any significant interactions between export cable routes and aviation interests

Table A.3.4 Potential interaction pathways

Potential Interaction

Technology Aspect and Phase

Potential Socio-economic Consequences

Initial Scoping Assessment

Height obstruction of commercial helicopter navigation routes

Arrays (construction and operation)

Additional track miles for helicopters owing to height obstruction in inclement weather, resulting in additional costs

Any potential significant impacts would only be expected where HMRs intersected with DPO areas.

Scoping assessment to be completed once DPOs defined.

Height obstruction of commercial aircraft navigation routes

Arrays (construction and operation)

Loss of trade at airports

Developments that compromised air safety on approaches to and from commercial airports would not be granted consent.

No detailed assessment required.

Interference with radar systems


The need to provide radar mitigation for strategic en route and low level radar interference.

Radar mitigation will be required as a condition of consent if there is a potentially significant effect. This cost will be borne by the developer rather than the airline industry or regulator.

No detailed assessment required.

A.3.4 Scoping Methodology

Spatial overlap between DPOs and Helicopter Main Routes to be assessed, once DPO areas are available.

A.3.5 Assessment Methodology

If a significant interaction between DPOs and Helicopter Main Routes is identified through scoping, further consideration will be given to the potential socio-economic impacts on in consultation with helicopter service providers.

A.3.6 Data Limitations

Helicopter Main Routes ( HMRs) represent the routes typically flown by helicopters operating to and from offshore destinations and are 'signposts' to aid flight safety ( i.e. signposting concentrations of helicopter traffic to other air space users). Whilst HMRs have no airspace status and assume the background airspace classification within which they lie, they are used by the Air Navigation Service Provider ( ANSP) ( i.e. NATS Aberdeen) and helicopter operators for flight planning and management purposes. While compliance with the HMR structure is not compulsory, in the interests of flight safety, civil helicopter pilots are strongly encouraged to plan their flights using HMRs wherever possible. The HMRs do not predict the flow of helicopter traffic ( ABPmer and RPA, 2013).


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