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.12. Recreational Boating

A.12.1 Sector Definition

This sector relates to recreational activities undertaken in medium and large sailing vessels, yachts, powerboats and motorboats. Information on smaller sailing boat activity such as dinghies (usually taken out of the water after use) and other types of water sports is covered separately in Appendix A.17.

There are clear socio-economic interactions between General Tourism and Recreational Boating. Tourism is described separately in Appendix A.15 as the interactions and issues in relation to offshore wind developments are often distinctly different to those associated with recreational boating. There is some possibility of a degree of double counting using this approach but not to the extent that it materially affects the results of the study.

A.12.2 Overview of Activity

The Scottish Marine Recreation and Tourism Survey ( SMRTS) (Land Use Consultants ( LUC), 2016) collated information on recreation and tourism activities undertaken at sea or around the Scottish coast. Table A.12.1 shows the total number of survey respondents (out of a total of 2170 individuals and representatives of clubs or similar organisations that completed the survey) who participated in recreational boating activity in 2015, key areas of concentrated activity and an estimate of the total expenditure of each activity [17] .

The SMRTS estimated that the annual expenditure on marine recreation and tourism activities in Scotland (including but not limited to the activities listed in Table A.12.1) was worth £3.7 billion to the Scottish economy (although acknowledge this is likely to be an overestimate). Around £2.4 billion of this is associated with general marine recreation and tourism (see Tourism, Appendix A.15) and around £1.3 billion is associated with more specialist activities including wildlife watching (see Tourism) sailing, kayaking, surfing and angling (see also Water sports, Appendix A.17).

In a separate study, it was estimated that sailing tourism in Scotland contributed £67.7 million GVA in 2016 and supported 2,740 FTE jobs (EKOS, 2016). With respect to future trends, the study estimated that with development of the market ( e.g. increased berths and facilities), the net additional increase in GVA of this sector could increase by between £9.7 to £11.9 million on the 2016 value, with associated increases in employment of between 394 to 480 FTEs. Scotland's Marine Tourism Strategy 'Awakening the Giant' sets a target to develop and lead the growth of sailing tourism in Scotland from £101 million visitor expenditure in 2015 to £145 million by 2020 (Marine Tourism Development Group ( MTDG), 2015).

Table A.12.1 Participation in marine water sports activities around Scotland in 2015

Activity Number of Respondents Taking Part Key Areas of Concentrated Activity Activity Specific Estimate of Trip Based Spending (£)
Sailing cruising including dinghy cruising at sea 578* West coast from the Firth of Clyde, through Argyll towards Skye and Torridon. Also showed use of the Crinan, Caledonian and, to a lesser extent, the Forth and Clyde Canals 51,608,579
Powerboating at sea 231 Greatest concentration of activity is within the Firth of Clyde, particularly in the area around Cumbrae, Bute and north of Arran. 25,731,907
Motor cruising at sea 180 Within the Firth of Clyde and around the coast of Argyll, particularly close to Oban and Mull 11,894,590
Yacht racing at sea 156 Particular concentrations of activity around Mull and in the Firth of Clyde around Cumbrae and Bute 7,799,017

* This activity will also include vessels which are covered under marine water sports in Appendix A.17.

Source: LUC, 2016

Figure A.12.1 shows an overview of recreational boating activity in Scotland, with respect to the location of RYA clubs and training centres, marinas, general boating areas and indicative offshore routes. The figure also shows AIS intensity (a 'heatmap' of activity), although it should be noted not all recreational vessels have AIS and hence this data is likely to substantially underrepresent the activity of recreational vessels. Information sources that can be used in the assessment are listed in Table A.12.2.

Figure A.12.1 Recreational boating activity in Scotland
Figure A.12.1 Recreational boating activity in Scotland

Table A.12.2 Information sources for the recreational boating sector

Data Available Information Source
Activity 'heat map' ( AIS intensity), general boating areas, offshore routes, RYA clubs and training centres, marinas ( UK/Scotland) UK Coastal Atlas of Recreational Boating, 2016
Watersports participation survey ( UK) Arkenford, 2016 (2016 data)
Scottish marine recreation and tourism (Scotland) Scottish marine recreation and tourism survey 2015
Recreational boating statistics 2016 ( UK) ICOMIA recreational boating statistics 2016 (British Marine membership required for access)
Economic value of sailing tourism in Scotland EKOS, 2016
Strategy for future development of sailing tourism and marine tourism in Scotland MTDG, 2015.

A.12.3 Potential Interactions with Offshore Wind

Table A.12.3 shows potential interaction pathways between recreational boating 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.12.3 Potential interaction pathways

Potential Interaction

Technology Aspect and Phase

Potential Socio-economic Consequences

Initial Impact Assessment

Alterations to informal cruising routes

Arrays (construction and operation)

Increased fuel costs for motorised vessels; possible relocation of vessels leading to loss of revenues for supply chain

Any potential significant impacts would only be expected where DPO areas overlap with areas of medium to high intensity recreational boating use, sailing or racing areas.

The location of the DPO areas is not currently available. However, given that recreational boating occurs extensively around the coast of Scotland, and the relatively high intensity of this activity in some areas, it has been assumed that avoidance of significant impacts may not be achieved through spatial planning alone. The impact of the interaction between offshore arrays and areas of medium to high intensity boating activity will need to be assessed once the location of the DPO areas is available.

See Section A.12.5.1 for proposed assessment methodology.

Scoping assessment to be completed once DPOs defined.

Deterrent to investment in marinas/supply chain

Arrays – construction and operation

Reduced investment in marina development, for example, where altered cruising routes affect the use of a marina or where the location of arrays may be perceived as increasing difficulty of access to marinas/anchorages and hence its usage.

Any potential significant impacts are likely to relate to the proximity of the array to existing marinas.

The location of DPO areas is not currently available. However, as the DPO areas are likely to be located offshore, it is not considered likely that the arrays will have a significant impact on marine investment.

Scoping assessment to be completed once DPOs defined.

Increase marine risk

Arrays (radar interference during operation) and export cables (increased vessel traffic during construction only)

Increased collision risk

Any potential significant impacts would only be expected where DPO areas or export cable corridors overlap with areas of medium to high intensity recreational boating use.

The location of DPO areas and export cable routes are currently not known.

Scoping assessment to be completed once DPOs defined.

A.12.4 Scoping Methodology

A.12.4.1 Impacts to sailing/cruising routes

To determine where detailed assessments of the interaction may be required when DPO area locations are available, the following scoping criteria are proposed:

  • Where DPO areas overlap with areas of medium to high intensity recreational boating activity (based on RYA AIS data and previously described cruising routes), a detailed assessment should be undertaken;
  • However, if the spatial extent of indicative arrays is predicted to occupy less than 5% of the DPO area, it has been assumed that spatial planning within the DPO area can be used to avoid significant impacts and no detailed assessment should be required;
  • Where spatial overlap between DPO areas and sailing or racing areas occurs, a detailed assessment should be undertaken;
  • However, if the overlap is less than 10% of the combined area of the DPO areas and sailing/racing area, it has been assumed that spatial planning of the DPO areas can be used to avoid significant impacts and no detailed assessment should be required.

A.12.5 Assessment Methodology

A.12.5.1 Impacts to sailing/cruising routes

In assessing areas of overlap between DPO areas and areas of medium to high intensity recreational boating activity it is suggested that boating activity is assessed using a combination of AIS data (preferably incorporating the latest available AIS data layers for 2015) and medium to heavy use 'cruising routes' previously described by the RYA. This will enable the identification of areas of medium to high intensity activity, particularly at a regional level, with a higher level of confidence compared to using AIS data alone (see data limitations relating to the AIS data).

Where scoping indicates that a detailed impact assessment is required, the potential economic cost of recreational boats having to deviate around offshore arrays can be estimated based on the:

  • Number of recreational transits across the area ( e.g. from the AIS data), extrapolated to calculate annual recreational transits;
  • Estimated extra distance for recreational vessel to deviate around an array; and
  • Average fuel costs per nautical mile for recreational vessels.

It can be noted that this will likely overestimate of the cost impact on this sector as it assumes that all vessels deviating around an array are in transit under engine whereas some will be under sail.

A.12.6 Data Limitations

The recreational boating 'heatmaps' (shown in Figure A.12.1) are based on AIS data. However, the proportion of recreational vessels which have AIS is relatively low. Furthermore, AIS data is monitored from terrestrial receiver stations. Reception range is therefore limited to line of sight and dependant on the power of the transmitting vessel (larger vessels with transmitters mounted higher up are more likely to be received than smaller vessels). Therefore, AIS coverage is more defined closer to shore, and underestimate vessel activity outside of the reception range ( i.e. further offshore). AIS reception in Scotland may be poor due to the steep terrain.


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