Project background: The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) was established in 2003 in Orkney. The centre offers potential marine renewable energy developers the opportunity to test prototype devices in real sea conditions. The centre has two key sites, one to test tidal energy devices which is located at Fall of Warness, Eday and a second (the focus of this document) a test site for Wave Energy Converters (WECs) and other infrastructure associated with marine renewables, located at Billia Croo, Stromness.
Billia Croo test site: Billia Croo is a full-scale grid-connected test site currently composed of five deep-water test berths and two inshore test berths with associated pipelines and cables to shore. The grid-connected test berths are serviced by subsea cables from an onshore substation, buried under the beach to 5 m below the Mean Low Water Spring (MLWS) mark, and then laid directly onto the seabed with cast iron cable protection for the first 250 m, the remaining length of each cable is unprotected. The test site is situated at Billia Croo off the west coast of the Orkney Mainland. The site is currently being expanded to accommodate future developer testing requirements. The current extent and agreed lease area extension are shown in Figure 1-1.
Requirement for Environmental Appraisal: In order to streamline licensing and testing for developers at the Billia Croo test site, a site-wide S36 consent under the Electricity Act 1989 is being sought by EMEC based on an envelope of testing activities. To support the S36 consent application, Xodus Group Limited (Xodus) has been commissioned by EMEC to undertake a full Environmental Appraisal (EA) for the Billia Croo test site. The purpose of the EA (this document) is to preappraise potential deployments and activities, based on the Project Envelope within the context of the wider environment. The Project Envelope will accompany this EA document as part of the S36 application (EMEC, 2019a). to produce an EA which will inform developer licence applications for all the testing and operations described within the Project Envelope.
As part of the original development of the Billia Croo test site, EMEC commissioned an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) in 2002, the findings of which were reported in an Environmental Statement (ES) (Carl Bro Group Ltd, 2002). This ES supported the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA) and Coast Protection Act 1949 (CPA) licences (Table 1-1). These licences allowed the presence of the test site but did not cover the deployment of individual wave devices by developers. An updated Environmental Description (from that contained in the 2002 ES) was produced in 2005 (Aurora Environmental, 2005) and subsequently updated by EMEC in 2009.
A Navigational Risk Assessment (NRA) was undertaken in 2008 and a subsequent report based on the NRA was produced to provide information to allow developers to produce a project-specific annex to the NRA (Abbott Risk Consulting Ltd, 2009). A new NRA has been undertaken in 2018/2019 and will be submitted with the S36 application (Marine and Risk Consultants Ltd, 2019).
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