Offshore wind expansion in UK waters is facing constraints by the EU Birds & Habitats Directives, which set acceptability standards for impacts to Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation, particularly in relation to potential impacts to seabirds.
Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies are now advising that, based on current scientific understanding and the precautionary approach to assessment required by the Directives, there is limited capacity for further development in areas such as the Moray Firth, East coast of Scotland and Southern and Central North Sea.
The UK has ambitious plans to increase offshore wind installed capacity from 9.5 GW to at least 30 GW by 2030, with planning for around a further 20 GW promoted through plans being progressed by The Crown Estate and Scottish Government.
It seems likely that further large scale expansion of offshore wind will not be able to demonstrate with certainty that adverse effects on the integrity of one or more European sites will be avoided, so will fail the tests of Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive. For such projects to proceed, developers will need to demonstrate that their proposals meet Article 6(4) before they can be granted approval.
While Article 6(4) has not yet been applied to offshore wind projects, there is significant experience applying these requirements to other marine developments, particularly ports and flood and coastal defence projects. The requirements are also clearly documented in guidance and Case Law.
Our White Paper explains the requirements of Article 6(4) using case examples from other sectors. It also considers the types of compensatory measures that might be required to offset impacts form offshore wind projects on Natura 2000 sites and how these might be delivered.
Download our White Paper
UK Offshore Wind Expansion: Meeting the challenges of Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive
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