In May 2010, a Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy (OWE) in Scottish Territorial Waters was published by Marine Scotland (2010a). The purpose of this Draft Plan is to consider the potential of Scottish Territorial Waters to accommodate OWE developments from a national perspective. It makes proposals and defines potential areas as short, medium and long-term options for OWE generation.
A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Draft OWE Plan (Marine Scotland, 2010b) identified the potential for a likely significant effect (LSE) on sites designated for their nature conservation interest at a European Level (“European sites”). Accordingly, a Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) of the Draft OWE Plan needs to be undertaken under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations, which implement the EC Birds and Habitats Directive in the UK. As Competent Authority, Marine Scotland is carrying out this HRA and will produce an Appropriate Assessment (AA) in fulfilment of obligations under these Regulations.
ABP Marine Environmental Research Ltd (ABPmer) was commissioned by Marine Scotland to complete the ‘screening’ and ‘AA information production’ stages of this HRA for both the short-term and medium-term options identified in the Draft OWE Plan1. The locations of these proposed short-term and medium-term option areas are shown in Figure 1. With respect to the long-term options, it has been determined that these do not need to be addressed at this stage because they are too broad in scale and scope to require or allow an HRA to be undertaken.
The HRA process for the Draft OWE Plan is being overseen by a Project Steering Group (PSG). The PSG comprises representatives of Marine Scotland, The Scottish Government Environmental Assessment Team, DG Energy, Scottish Enterprise (SE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), The Crown Estate (TCE), Scottish Renewables, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), Scottish Environment Link and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
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