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.8. Military Defence

A.8.1 Sector Definition

This sector relates to military defence activities which directly or indirectly use the marine environment. Within UK waters, in peacetime, military activities comprise practice and training activities, routine patrolling, transporting equipment and personnel in and out of the country, search and rescue operations (in conjunction with HM Coastguard) and communications including using radar.

The marine environment is used predominantly by the Royal Navy (submarine bases, jetties and exercise areas), but is also used by the Army (training camps and firing ranges), Royal Air Force (bases, coastal Air Weapon Ranges and Danger Areas) and Ministry of Defence ( MOD) (Defence Test and Evaluation Ranges to trial weapon systems). Defence activities that use the marine environment, directly or indirectly, in support of operational capability are diverse but include operational vessels and aircraft, HM naval bases, surface and sub-surface navigational interests, underwater acoustic ranges, maritime and amphibious exercises, coastal training, test and evaluation ranges ( HM Government, 2011).

A.8.2 Overview of Activity

Military activities occur in both inshore and offshore waters. Coastal military locations and the areas available for military training and other defence activities are shown in Figure A.8.1.

Principal marine-related defence activities include sea transport by naval vessels, mainly associated with naval bases and sea training which is conducted within defined military practice and exercise areas ( PEXA). Naval training establishments may also have associated marine activities. The only naval base in Scotland is Her Majesty's Naval Base ( HMNB) Clyde, while PEXA are predominantly located off the west coast of Scotland ( Figure A.8.1).

Military aviation may also occur over coastal and marine areas. The UK has a military low flying system which supports training below 2000 feet. The UK is divided into 20 separate low flying areas ( LFAs), including 2 large areas in Scotland (Area 14 covering mainland Scotland north of the Central Region, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland; and Area 16 which includes the Borders region of Southern Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway and other counties up to and including those within the central belt). The LFAs in Scotland include 2 Tactical Training Areas ( TTAs) in northern Scotland and the borders area of southern Scotland and northern England where at specific times each day aircraft can fly as low as 100 feet. In addition there are air weapons ranges, which are used for low flying military aircraft and air to ground bombing, at Tain in Ross-shire and Cape Wrath in Sutherland.

The MOD employs people throughout the UK in support of its operations in the marine environment, including HM naval bases, MOD ranges and coastal estates. Gross Value Added ( GVA) of UK military activity in the sea was estimated to be approximately £400 million in 2012 ( MSCC, 2014). Marine activities and hence the location of the value to the economy are mainly related to the location of the naval bases and exercise areas. The Royal Navy employs 38,140 military staff (as of 1 January 2016) and 4,450 civilian staff (as of 1 October 2015) ( MOD, 2015; 2016b).

With regard to future trends, the primary drivers for the defence sector are political. The UK Government is implementing the recommendations of its strategic review in the period to 2025. It has committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence until 2020. Assuming growth in the UK economy over time, there will be increased expenditure on the defence sector with possible changes in military activity levels.

Figure A.8.1 shows an overview of military defence activity in Scotland. Information sources that can be used in the assessment are listed in Table A.8.1.

Figure A.8.1 Military Defence Activity in Scotland
Figure A.8.1 Military Defence Activity in Scotland

Table A.8.1 Information sources for the defence sector

Data Available Information Source
UK Government's National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review ( SDSR) 2015 HM Government, 2015
Military exercise areas and installations Scottish Government ( NMPi), (2016)
UK military expenditure The World Bank, 2017

A.8.3 Potential Interactions with Offshore Wind

Table A.8.2 shows potential interaction pathways between military defence 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. Furthermore, as described in the main report, there is currently no information regarding the likely location of export cable routes/corridors and as such, it is not possible to undertake a meaningful assessment of the potential for any sector activity/export cable interaction to give rise to significant socio-economic effects. Rather, the potential for any interaction will be identified in Regional Locational Guidance.

Table A.8.2 Potential interaction pathways

Potential Interaction

Technology Aspect and Phase

Potential Socio-economic Consequences

Initial Scoping Assessment

Competition for space

Array (construction and operation)

Displacement/exclusion of activity leading to increased costs to sector

Any potential significant impacts would only be expected where DPO areas overlap with PEXA.

The location of DPO areas is not currently available.

Scoping assessment to be completed once DPOs defined.

Export cable corridors (construction and operation)

Any potential significant impacts would only be expected where export cable corridors intersected with PEXA or military installations on the coast ( i.e. at landfall sites).

Export cable routes are uncertain. Constraints inshore of DPOs will be identified in the RLG.

No detailed assessment possible.

Interference with radar systems

Array (operation)

Displacement of activity leading to increased costs

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.

No detailed assessment required.

Interference with underwater communications

Array – construction and operation

Displacement of activity leading to increased costs

Any potential significant impacts would only be expected where the location of DPO areas were located close enough to PEXA to interfere with underwater communications.

The location of DPO areas is not currently available.

Scoping assessment to be completed once DPOs defined.

A.8.4 Scoping Methodology

The spatial proximity of DPOs to PEXAs to be assessed, once DPO areas are available. Where DPO areas are within 10 km of any aviation or non-aviation PEXA, further consideration of the potential interaction will be undertaken ( ABPmer and RPA, 2013).

A.8.5 Assessment Methodology

If a potentially significant interaction between DPOs and PEXAs is identified through scoping, further consideration will be given to the potential socio-economic impacts in consultation with the Ministry of Defence.

A.8.6 Data Limitations

Identifying defence activities is relatively straightforward from national statistics. However, establishing whether defence activities are connected to marine activities is not possible. Furthermore, owing to the confidential nature of military defence activities it is difficult to assess the extent and frequency of activity and future trends within the marine environment. There are uncertainties concerning the exact location of training activities within designated exercise areas and the frequency of use of those areas given the need for a certain amount of security in the information provided. In some instances the exact nature of Government spending changes is also uncertain and thus it is difficult to predict the future intensity of military activity within the marine environment.


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