Advice on marine renewables development

We will work with developers to find solutions that enable development and avoid natural heritage impacts.

Developers should assess the proposed site of any offshore development for impacts on:

  • marine species – such as mammals, seabirds and fish
  • marine habitats
  • coastal landscapes

Guidance for developers

Our Marine Energy Team handles all of the marine energy work we’re involved in. This includes offshore wind, wave, tidal stream and tidal barrage development proposals. As of April 2017, we also deal with development proposals beyond 12 nautical miles (previously handled by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee).

Our Planning Service Statement guides our involvement in marine energy casework.

We support an early approach to engagement with both developers and Marine Scotland.

Our guidance has been developed either within NatureScot or with Marine Scotland and/or the UK’s other country nature conservation agencies. Our guidance covers a range of topics, including Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations Appraisal for proposed schemes

For guidance on specific topic areas, please refer to the guidance below.

General guidance

Birds guidance

In February 2020, we held a workshop to discuss guidance needs for ornithological impact assessment:

As a result of this workshop we have now developed a suite of eleven guidance notes highlighting the steps to take, processes to follow and tools / methods to use and where to find these when  carrying out an impact assessment for ornithology for an offshore wind farm. Note many of these notes will also be relevant to other types of marine developments.

This series of eleven guidance documents provides a core resource to inform offshore wind development proposals in Scotland. These guidance notes will take stakeholders and developers through each step of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) processes to guide provision of the supporting information required to inform and support an application.

We have reflected on the previous information contained in applications, held workshops with industry and reviewed research project outputs and post consent monitoring results. These have all helped improve our understanding of interactions between marine birds and offshore wind energy developments. As our knowledge and evidence base continues to grow, we will continue to review and update these guidance notes.

We also provide an update log to these guidance documents, which will highlight when a new version has been published to account for new evidence, and specifically, what changes have been made.

Please note this guidance was written prior to the development of a NatureScot position on how to account for the ongoing Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) mortality event within an impact assessment. We are currently developing this advice and will provide updates and guidance as they become available. In the interim please contact [email protected]  should you have any specific queries.

Guidance Notes

In addition during 2021/2022, we undertook a review of Digital Aerial Surveys with the assistance of a subgroup formed by our Scientific Advisory Committee.

This review has provided a list of recommendations that we will follow up with digital aerial survey providers. Working closely together with other SNCBS, eNGOs, Regulators ,Industry and consultants enables  all of us to assist in  meeting the challenges of climate change as well as safeguarding our rich biodiversity.

We will continue to working closely with other SNCBS, eNGOs, Regulator , Industry and consultants to  review (and update where necessary) methods, exchange knowledge and seek new evidence to assist in  meeting the challenges of climate change as well as safeguarding our rich biodiversity.

Marine mammals guidance

Key impacts on marine mammals relate to collision risk, underwater noise, displacement and entanglement.

Seascape, landscape and visual impacts guidance

In 2013, the Scottish Government consulted on marine plans for the offshore wind, wave and tidal energy sectors. Regional locational guidance informed the plans for each sector.

Explore Scottish Government marine renewable energy research.


Marine Energy

[email protected]

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