The Scottish Government believes that Scotland can lead the world in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies. Our offshore potential is enormous - with an estimated 206 gigawatts ( GW) of offshore wind, wave and tidal resource in Scottish waters; almost 40% of the UK total 1. These resources will play a major part in meeting our ambitious renewable electricity target - 80% of gross Scottish consumption by 2020 2.
As we move into a new era of energy generation, and as the shift from finite fossil fuels accelerates towards permanence, we have to harness more and more of our renewable energy resources. We must start to tap into our dynamic marine environment, including our offshore wind energy potential, to provide us with the power we need for our homes, businesses and to drive our economy forward.
The Scottish Government has used a marine planning approach to develop Blue Seas Green Energy - A Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind in Scottish Territorial Waters (the Plan). This process was started through the application of Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) to produce a draft Plan. The SEA Environmental Report and draft Plan were consulted upon before Habitats Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) and Socio-economic Assessment were applied to inform the contents of the final Plan.
Consultation has been a key element in the development of the Plan. The Scottish Government has sought to build the views of statutory, sectoral, regional, voluntary and other bodies as well as individuals into the planning process. The Plan is based on current knowledge and views but will be subject to monitoring, research and consultation to enable an informed Plan review. The Scottish Government will continue to adopt marine planning approaches in future sectoral development through the use of scoping tools such as the Marine Resource System ( MaRS), and the application of marine planning techniques such as Regional Locational Guidance ( RLG).
Scottish Ministers have adopted the Plan. A Post-Adoption Statement 3 ( PAS) has been produced which details how the assessment outputs and the consultation analysis have been taken into account in the final Plan.
The draft Plan contained 10 short term options. The sites were selected by developers and The Crown Estate Commissioners ( CEC) and awarded Exclusivity Agreements. The 10 sites, reduced to 9 due to the Bell Rock site being withdrawn by the developer, were included in the draft Plan as the short term options to be developed by 2020. The planning and SEA processes identified a further 25 medium term areas of search within the plan regions for development between 2020 and 2030. The medium areas of search will be subject to further assessment.
It should be noted that in addition to the short term sites and medium term areas of search contained within the Plan, there are 2 sites within Scottish Offshore Waters as a result of the CEC third leasing round (Round 3) for offshore wind development. These sites were considered as part of the UK Government Department for Energy and Climate Change Offshore Wind SEA4.
Consultation and Assessment Results
The outcomes of the SEA, HRA, Socio-economic Assessment and Consultation Analysis have informed the Final Plan. The main findings were:
There is a significant offshore wind energy resource within Scottish Territorial Waters and Scottish Offshore Waters (12 to 200 nautical miles). As the Plan is currently restricted to Scottish Territorial Waters, there exists the opportunity for further development in addition to the short term options and medium areas of search identified in the Plan.
The Plan has sought to deliver sustainable development by addressing impacts and concerns. There are generic issues related to shipping, fishing and environmental impact which apply in all offshore wind plan regions around Scotland. In addition, there are significant environmental and cultural issues in certain regions such as visual impact and the effects on tourism. In the West and South West regions, community engagement and public acceptability are significant issues.
Scottish Ministers have decided that 6 short term sites and 25 medium areas of search should be progressed within this Plan. Scottish Ministers have also decided not to progress 3 short term sites. It is acknowledged that there is significant opportunity for further areas to be identified in both Scottish Territorial and Offshore Waters.
The main findings for each of the Offshore Wind Plan regions are:
East Region (off the Forth and Tay)
This region has favourable conditions for the development of offshore wind. The significant strategic issues relate to fishing, shipping and the environment. Evidence suggests that these issues can be addressed through appropriate mitigation measures. There are 3 short term sites within Scottish Territorial Waters ( STWs) which appear to be suitable for development by 2020. There is also a large Round 3 offshore wind development just outside the STWs boundary but within Scottish Offshore Waters ( SOWs). The cumulative impacts of these developments will require further consideration.
North East (Moray Firth)
This region has favourable conditions and significant potential for the development of offshore wind both within Scottish Territorial Waters and beyond into Scottish Offshore Waters. The significant strategic issues to be resolved relate to fishing and the environment, with potential adverse effects on bottlenose dolphins also a significant issue. Shipping appears to be less significant. Evidence at this stage suggests these issues can be addressed through appropriate mitigation measures at the project level. There is 1 short term site within Scottish Territorial Waters which appears to be suitable for development by 2020. There is also a large Round 3 offshore wind development site just outside Scottish Territorial Waters which is adjacent to the Beatrice short term site. The cumulative impacts of these developments will require further consideration.
This region has favourable conditions for the development of offshore wind. The significant strategic issues to be resolved relate to fishing, shipping and the environment. Evidence at this stage suggests that these issues can be addressed through appropriate mitigation measures at the project level. There are no short term sites within this region at present, however further work could identify the potential for offshore wind development to be brought forward. There is potential for further development opportunity in this region and in adjacent Scottish Offshore Waters.
This region has favourable conditions for the development of offshore wind. The significant strategic issues to be resolved relate to fishing, shipping and the environment. Evidence at this stage suggests that these issues can be addressed through appropriate mitigation measures at the project level. There are no short term sites within this region however further work could identify the potential for offshore wind development to be brought forward. There is potential for further development opportunity in this region and in adjacent Scottish Offshore Waters.
West Coast (Tiree, Islay and Kintyre)
This region has mixed conditions for the development of offshore wind. The significant strategic issues relate to visual impact and cultural heritage issues with additional concerns linked to impacts on tourism and recreation. There are 3 short term sites within Scottish Territorial Waters:
Tiree and Islay - These sites have favourable conditions for the development of offshore wind. However there is a need for effective engagement with the community at the project level. There should be involvement by key agencies and the local community representation in influencing proposals such as a scenario / masterplanning approach. The aim of such an approach would to help steer the onshore elements of the proposed offshore wind developments. Developers will be expected to engage with communities to discuss options and seek public acceptability for their proposals.
Kintyre - This site as chosen presents significant problems for the development of offshore wind. The significant strategic issues include a lack of public acceptability on environmental and visual impact grounds as well as impacts on existing and potential future investment opportunities. As a result, the Scottish Ministers have decided that the Kintyre site is unsuitable for the development of offshore wind and should not be progressed as part of this Sectoral Marine Plan.
South West (Solway and Wigtown Bay)
This region and these sites specifically present significant problems for the development of offshore wind. The significant strategic issues are public acceptability, environmental and visual impact. In addition, socio-economic assessment suggests that there is little or no potential for regional economic benefit, and indeed that there is a possibility of adverse economic impacts. Both the relevant Planning Authority and local consultees have expressed real and sustained opposition to the 2 short term options or any form of offshore wind development within the Solway. As a result, the Scottish Ministers have decided that the Solway Firth and Wigtown Bay sites are unsuitable for the development of offshore wind and should not be progressed as part of this Sectoral Marine Plan.
Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind in Scottish Territorial Waters
The Final Plan considers the development of offshore wind at the regional level. It contains recommendations, key findings from the assessments and consultation analysis, key issues to be addressed, and key actions to address these issues. It also identifies further studies and research projects which will advance the marine spatial planning approach taken to develop this Plan over the 2 year review process.
The Scottish Government will consider the opportunity for further developments in the short and medium term both in Scottish Territorial and Offshore Waters.
The Plan will be subject to monitoring on a variety of environmental and social receptors. It will be reviewed on a 2 year cycle. This will be informed by monitoring and research work as a result of SEA, HRA and Socio-economic assessments, as well as views expressed in future consultation and by any steering or advisory groups. The SEA contains recommendations for monitoring, research and further assessment as does the Habitats Regulation Appraisal. It is recognised that the Socio-economic Assessment is strategic and high level and as such will require a more regional focus to address fishing, shipping, recreation, sport and tourism sectors. It is also recognised that potential development strategies including those for other marine renewables (wave and tidal), further offshore wind development and other marine sector activities will emerge and that potential cumulative and in-combination effects must be addressed in the appropriate manner to properly consider existing sectors such as fishing and shipping and our unique natural environment.
Overseen by The Scottish Government, it is envisaged that the Marine Strategy Forum will provide high level steering for the Plan review and research agenda. The SEA and HRA steering groups and Socio-economics advisory group will inform the development of assessment processes and as regional marine planning is rolled out around Scotland there is growing potential for more structured regional policy development and consultation engagement.