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Planning for offshore wind in Scottish waters

Marine Scotland published its Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy at the end of October, the first to include options for floating offshore wind.

Marine Scotland published its Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy at the end of October.

The plan provides for up to an initial 10 GW of installed capacity for fixed and floating offshore wind across 15 Plan Option areas. The plan is the first to include options for floating offshore wind, developed through an iterative process of environmental, social and economic appraisal. ABPmer worked closely with Marine Scotland for two years to develop the plan.

The plan has particularly sought to balance potential development opportunities with key constraints, including interactions with commercial fishing and shipping, and risks to seabirds from collision and displacement. Several potential development areas, notably in the Moray Firth and Solway Firth, were not included in the final Plan as a result of such constraints.

To address risks to designated seabird colonies within Special Protection Areas (SPAs), novel temporal mitigation measures have been adopted to provide certainty that adverse effects on species associated with these colonies can be avoided. This will inform an adaptive management process based on monitoring and research to determine whether development within specific Plan Option areas can proceed while avoiding an adverse effect on the integrity of SPAs.

Crown Estate Scotland (CES) is taking forward its Scotwind leasing round based on Marine Scotland’s plan.


Key dates in Scotwind Leasing Round 1

15 January 2021: CES will publish a post-adoption addendum to Scotwind  Leasing by this date

31 March 2021: The closing date for applications to Scotwind Leasing

CES expects the application review process to take four months, and two weeks later will offer option agreements.

Based on this timetable, CES is likely to be in a position to conclude Option Agreements from summer 2021, with the first projects possibly becoming operational by the early 2030s.

The outcome of the initial leasing round is awaited with great interest.

The bidding process will be highly competitive, with new entrants such as oil and gas majors and floating offshore wind consortia entering the fray alongside existing developers.

With offshore wind poised to be at the heart of the UK’s green recovery, winners in the first leasing round will have an eye to the future, with several of the Plan Options having the potential for multi GW deployments over time.

With most of the UK’s deepwater floating wind resource being located in Scottish waters, and the relatively lower levels of constraint in these areas, Scotland is well placed to make a major contribution to UK offshore wind expansion in pursuit of net zero.