The purpose of this Scoping Report is to establish the scope of studies for assessing the nature, magnitude and significant of environmental changes caused directly, indirectly and cumulatively by the proposed tidal energy scheme located off Torr Head on the coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
This report has been prepared for consideration by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) under the offshore Electricity Development (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008, the Northern Ireland Environmental Protection Agency (NIEA) for the Department of Environment Northern Ireland (DoENI) under the Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985, the Planning Service Northern Ireland under Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 and all other interested parties. It is a tool to ensure that all relevant issues are assessed during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
The principal issues that have been identified to be included within the EIA in regard to the physical environment are coastal processes, geology, water quality and suspended sediments and noise. In regard to the biological environment the topics are conservation designations, ornithology, large marine species, benthic and intertidal ecology, terrestrial ecology and fish and shellfish ecology. And in regard to the human environment the issues considered are shipping and navigation, commercial fisheries, landscape, and seascape, archaeology and cultural heritage and socio-economic considerations including tourism and recreation. For each topic, the potential effects during the life of the project are identified, outline study methodologies to establish robust baselines and impact assessments are outline, and potential mitigation measures identified.
The report outlines a number of project specific details including the rationale behind the site selection and a description of the physical characteristics of the proposed area. The key infrastructure components of the project are described including turbines, cables, onshore works, array configuration and the phases of development. This preliminary project description has been outlined as a basis on which to assess the potential effects of the proposed development. It also highlights the positive environmental benefits likely to arise from the proposed tidal array development.
The EIA process, its approach and the general methodology to be adopted are outlined. A key element of the approach that should be noted, is that the exact details of the project design have not yet been finalized and as such, it is proposed that the EIA should satisfy case law and legislation by aiming to assess the 'realistic worse case scenario' arising from any chosen design.
This report proposes a structure for the Environmental Statement (ES), which will be prepared to collate and report the findings of the EIA. The ES will support the consent application to DETI under Article 39 of the Electricity Order and a license application to the DoENI under Section 5 of the Food and Environmental Protection Act, and, if applicable, the Planning Service Northern Ireland in respect of onshore works.
This report has been produced following initial consultation with a number of interested parties and will be used as a basis for further consultation with statutory and non statutory consultees.