Supporting development of SRAs for Welsh tidal energy

Constraints analysis and stakeholder engagement in support of a consultation for Strategic Resource Areas

Welsh Government is seeking to identify Strategic Resource Areas (SRAs) to support the development of tidal stream energy.

Tidal stream energy generation is a strategic priority for Welsh Government, recognised as an emerging and innovative energy, with potential to play a part in the decarbonisation of the Welsh energy system and achieving net zero targets.

To safeguard the limited number of resource areas, Welsh Government plan to launch a consultation to identify tidal stream energy SRAs.

ABPmer was commissioned to undertake technical mapping work to refine the proposed Resource Areas. This was achieved through spatial constraints analysis and stakeholder engagement.

Spatial constraints analysis

Spatial analyses mapping was carried out by applying a range of technical, hard and soft constraints (and considering opportunities) to refine existing Resource Area boundaries. These constraints were agreed with Welsh Government and stakeholders, acknowledging the best available evidence to draw on for understanding socio-economic and sector to sector constraints.

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder input and buy-in was key to supporting this work and identifying areas with the potential for future sustainable use by the focus sectors for mapping. Throughout the process, stakeholders were invited to feedback on the proposed mapping methodology and discuss options for the refinement of the Resource Areas. This was achieved through a combination of feedback requests, workshops and bespoke stakeholder events. Specific attention was given to how consideration of environmental factors should be used to support SRA development.

Following initial stakeholder agreement, it was concluded that environmental considerations should not be used to refine RAs. This acknowledged discussions and recommendations from stakeholders and the conclusions of Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment screening exercises, which determined there was no requirement to engage Appropriate Assessment processes in relation to resource safeguarding through SRAs.

A further stakeholder event was held to discuss how soft constraints were used within the SRA mapping project. Given the nature of SRAs and resource safeguarding, it was unanimously agreed that soft constraints should be presented as contextual and informative layers alongside any refined Resource Areas or SRAs through mapping on the Welsh Marine Planning Portal, rather than be used to refine Area boundaries.

A range of refined Resource Areas for each of the differentiated focus sectors were later presented to stakeholders. These mapping outputs represented completion of a key stage towards the development of potential SRAs.


Welsh Government used our mapping work to inform a consultation to gather views on the SRA proposals. The consultation will inform a Marine Planning notice to finalise the identification of the SRAs and ensure access to these areas is not compromised.

To learn more about the consultation and our mapping work and read our derivation report and sustainability appraisal, visit the Welsh Government website

Main photo: Visit Wales

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