The requirement for Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) is set out under Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna (the ‘Habitats Directive’). This is transposed into Scottish law through the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (the ‘Habitats Regulations’). HRA is required where there is the potential for a development to affect the integrity of a European site (Special Protection Areas, SPAs; and Special Areas of Conservation, SACs).
Where a site is designated as a proposed SPA (pSPA) (i.e. when the site has been passed to the European Commission for consideration as a SPA), it is necessary to conduct a ‘shadow’ HRA, in which the site is treated as though it was fully designated as a SPA. In the case of Argyll Array Offshore Wind Farm (AAOWF), the sites for inclusion in the assessment are not yet pSPAs, although they have been identified as supporting potentially important overwintering populations of great northern diver (Gavia immer), listed on Annex I of the EC Birds Directive.
Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) have elected to undertake a shadow assessment of potential effects of AAOWF on sites in Scottish inshore waters which, in the future, may possibly be designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for overwintering great northern diver. In this report, particular reference is made to the waters around Coll & Tiree, which support internationally important numbers of great northern diver, and which are in closest proximity to the AAOWF site.