These Information Notes will support careful consideration of how, for a particular development, potential impacts that are considered low risk could be safely retired from further detailed consideration within Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), where available evidence supports this approach. Ocean Energy Systems-Environmental (OES-Environmental) has set out a general process for risk retirement1,2 but for developments in Welsh waters, risk retirement should always be discussed between developers and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) at the pre-application stage. In the context of these Information Notes, risk retirement implies that all potential impacts are included for consideration at the project scoping stage, and that following a review of the evidence some impacts may be ‘scoped out’ of any further detailed assessment to focus EIA on key significant impacts3. In all cases, potential impacts should be acknowledged in EIAs, with evidence-based justifications describing why particular impacts could be ‘scoped out’ of further detailed assessment.
The Welsh National Marine Plan4 (WNMP) contains a policy framework designed to guide marine decision making in Wales, including policies relating to cumulative impact assessment (CIA) and in the context of supporting sustainable development of the Welsh Marine Area and achieving Good Environmental Status. Cumulative effects, as set out in the WNMP2 are: “those effects that result from incremental changes caused by two or more past, present and/or reasonably foreseeable actions. These can be economic, social or environmental in nature. Cumulative effects could arise from single or multiple responses (environmental, economic or social) to single or multiple pressures from single or multiple activities. The term “cumulative” is extended to include the term “in combination” effects as used in some legislation.”