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 impacts. 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 acoustic environment is an important characteristic of many marine habitats, and sound is used by many animals for communication, navigation, foraging, and reproduction (Tyack and Miller, 2002). The combination of sounds arising from the natural environment, including animal vocalisations, habitat related sounds, and sounds from the physical environment is known as the acoustic environment, or soundscape.