In May 2010, a Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy (OWE) in Scottish Territorial Waters was published by Marine Scotland (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 made proposals and defined 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 requires to be undertaken under the Habitats Regulations which implements the EU 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.
Pre-screening studies have been undertaken to identify the possible impacts of the short-term and medium-term options (Halcrow 2010 and ABPmer 2010a) to satisfy the requirements of Stages 1 to 3 and 5 of HRA process. These are defined stages of a 13-step process for Plan-level HRAs that has been identified within Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) guidance (David Tyldesley and Associates 2010). ABP Marine Environmental Research Ltd (ABPmer) has been commissioned by Marine Scotland to complete the remaining ‘screening’ and ‘AA information production’ stages of this HRA for both the short-term and medium-term options identified in the Draft OWE Plan. 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.
This report presents a working paper which addresses the requirements for Stage 4 of the HRA for the short-term and medium-term options. It sets out the proposed approach to the screening of issues and assessment stages following completion of the two pre-screening phases of the HRA. In addition to reviewing the possible screening methods this report also:
- Presents the methods for taking account of plan level mitigation measures and re-screening (Stages 6 and 7 of the HRA); and
- Outlines the approach to be adopted in the subsequent AA phases, including the assessment of cumulative and in-combination impacts (Stages 8 to 10 of the HRA).
These methods are described so that they can form the focus for early consultations with the Project Steering Group (PSG) who are overseeing the HRA process. The PSG comprises representatives of Marine Scotland, The Scottish Government Environmental Assessment Team, DG Energy, Scottish Enterprise (SE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), SNH, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), The Crown Estate (TCE), Scottish Renewables, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Other Parts of this report can be found at: