Aberdeen Bay Windfarm ©Laura Campbell/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Offshore wind energy

Scottish waters offer some of Europe’s windiest sites for harnessing offshore wind energy, but nature and landscape impacts may result.

Wind turbines are now a proven technology, but Scotland is leading the way in developing novel solutions including offshore floating wind technology.

Wind farms and associated transmission infrastructure can have impacts on :

  • birds
  • marine mammals
  • seabed ecology
  • fish
  • seascapes
  • visual amenity

Our approach

We support a planned approach in which offshore wind development is guided towards the locations and technologies that have the least adverse impact on Scotland’s seascapes, species and habitats.

Scotland is recognised across the world for:

  • our spectacular and important seabird colonies
  • the attractiveness and diversity of our coastline
  • the opportunities it offers to see bottlenose dolphins and other marine mammals

Our productive seas are also a vital economic asset.

Commercial offshore wind farms are much larger than onshore wind farms and use bigger turbines. So far, most developments have been in shallow water (10–60m deep). Newer technology such as floating platforms may enable deeper locations to be developed.  Marine Scotland, who regulate the offshore wind sector in Scottish seas, have recently (2018) initiated a sectoral planning process for future commercial offshore windfarm development. This should help guide future schemes to areas of good wind resource but fewer environmental constraints than other locations.

Currently (2018) Scotland has one operational commercial offshore windfarm site, Robin Rigg in the Solway Firth, an operational demonstration array in Aberdeen Bay and an operational demonstration floating offshore wind site, Hywind, off Peterhead. Several other consents have been issued for fixed and floating offshore windfarms. These include commercial sites in the Forth and Tay, and Moray Firth, where the Beatrice offshore windfarm is now under construction, as well as demonstration sites off Stonehaven and Methil.

Two deeper water demonstration turbines in the Moray Firth are due for decommissioning by 2020.


View our general marine renewables guidance.

Read our visual representation guidance for onshore and offshore wind farms.

SNH Guidance on Coastal Character Assessment has been developed and will be available shortly. A link to this guidance will be made available once published.

Predicting bird mortality through collision is an important part of the impact assessment process for offshore wind farms. Collision risk modelling relies on turbine avoidance rates predicted for key species.

Marine Scotland carried out a review of avoidance rates and reported back in 2014. The UK’s four country nature conservation agencies advised on how the offshore wind industry could apply the review’s findings to impact assessment.

Read The Avoidance Rates of Collision Between Birds and Offshore Turbines: BTO Research Report No. 656

Read The Joint Response from the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies to the Marine Scotland Science Avoidance Rate Review

Current projects

You can view all current marine renewable energy project information on the Marine Scotland website.

The information on each project is split to cover the various stages of scoping and pre-application, application and determination, and post-determination.


Marine Energy

[email protected]