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.10. Ports and Harbours

A.10.1 Sector Definition

This sector relates to ports and harbours which provide the modal interchange points by which goods and people are transported from land to sea. Harbours are by definition, safe havens for vessels to reside in and are often commensurate with port areas. Information on dredge material disposal sites is provided in Appendix A.16 'Waste Disposal'.

A.10.2 Overview of Activity

Within Scottish waters, the ports and harbours sector supports the largest fishing industry in the UK, provides facilities for a significant offshore Oil and Gas industry, as well as maintaining ferry links to island communities and providing the recreational sector with support services. There is an intrinsic link between ports, harbours and shipping, however the interactions and issues in relation to marine renewable developments are often distinctly different. Information for recreational boating and commercial shipping and are presented in Appendix A.12 and A.13 respectively.

In 2016, 98% of all port traffic in the UK was handled by major ports (ports handling over 1 million tonnes of freight per year), with 2% handled by minor ports ( DfT, 2017). Figure A.10.1 shows the location of ports in Scotland and Table A.10.1 shows the total volume of freight handled by the eleven major Scottish ports in 2015. Key fishing ports include Peterhead and Fraserburgh (see also commercial fisheries, Appendix A.7) while important ports for cruise ships (based on the total number of ships calling into port in 2016) include Invergordon, Orkney, Greenock, Edinburgh and Lerwick (Cruise Scotland, 2017).

Table A.10.1 Total volume of freight handled by the major ports in Scotland in 2015

Port Total tonnage
Aberdeen 4,376
Cairnryan 2,548
Clyde 12,484
Cromarty Firth 262
Dundee 515
Forth 27,074
Glensanda 5,597
Orkney 3,945
Peterhead 1,468
Stranraer / Loch Ryan 2,163

Source: Transport Scotland, 2017

The National Renewables Infrastructure Plan ( NRIP) identifies potential port locations to support the development of the offshore renewables sector (Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, 2010). A number of ports are already supporting the construction of Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm including Wick, Nigg, Cromarty Firth and Buckie. Peterhead and Aberdeen have also provided important construction support for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. Ports such as Montrose and Dundee have made major investments to support offshore wind construction and O&M activity on the East Coast. Kishorn on the west coast has the largest dry dock in Europe and has an agreement to construct the Kincardine Floating Offshore Wind Farm.

In 2015, GVA directly contributed by the ports industry in Scotland was £1,020 million (representing 13.5% of the UK industry total) and directly supported 14,800 jobs (14.7% of the UK industry total) ( Cebr, 2017).

With regard to future trends, due to uncertainty regarding the process of Brexit and the implications for the UK economy and the associated maritime sector, it has been forecast that the maritime industry GVA and turnover will essentially remain flat until 2019, followed by slow growth up to 2022. By 2022 GVA and turnover are forecasted to be around 15% and 13% higher than they were in 2015 ( Cebr, 2017b).

Information sources that can be used in the assessment are listed in Table A.10.2.

Figure A.10.1 Ports and Harbours in Scotland
Figure A.10.1 Ports and Harbours in Scotland

Table A.10.2 Information sources for the ports and harbours sector

Data Available Information Source
Port and harbour locations, port types, port ownership, contact details ( UK) Ports and Harbours of the UK:
Commercial listings of ports in Scotland, service providers, contact details, description of services and current development plans (Scotland) Ports of Scotland:
Tonnage of freight handled by major ports (Scotland) Transport Scotland, 2017: Scottish Transport Statistics (2015 data)
Cruise port data (Scotland) Cruise Scotland - access via Marine Scotland Information website (2016 data):
UK port demand forecasts, taking into account recession (to 2030) ( UK) Port Infrastructure Development UK. Gail Bradford, MDS Transmodal, 2011
The economic contribution of the ports industry ( UK/Scotland) Cebr, 2017a
Forecast for UK maritime sector Cebr, 2017b

A.10.3 Potential Interactions with Offshore Wind

Table A.10.3 shows potential interaction pathways between ports and harbours 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.10.3 Potential interaction pathways

Potential Interaction

Technology Aspect and Phase

Potential Socio-economic Consequences

Initial Scoping Assessment

Obstruction of maintained navigation channel(s) (interference with vessel routes to port)

Arrays (construction and operation)

Increase in route steaming times for vessels, increased fuel cost. Potential loss of customers and revenue; increased costs associated with maintaining alternative routes.

Significant impacts would only be expected to occur where DPO areas overlap or intersect with maintained navigation channels.

The location of DPO areas are not currently available, however, it is assumed that avoidance of an interaction with navigation channels should be possible through marine spatial planning.

No detailed assessment required.

Export cables (construction only)

Temporary increase in route steaming times for vessels, increased fuel cost. Potential loss of port customers and revenue (short term and/or seasonal trade). Could impact on GVA of sector and employment. Loss of customers and revenue; increased costs associated with maintaining alternative routes.

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

No detailed assessment possible.

A.10.4 Scoping Methodology

No further scoping required.

A.10.5 Data Limitations

There are no major data limitations relating to ports and harbours.


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