Marine licence

  1. The MCAA 2009 applies within the UK offshore waters (between 12 nm and up to 200 nm offshore). It gives the Scottish Ministers executively devolved powers in the Scottish Offshore region (12 nm to 200 nm). Under the MCAA 2009 (as amended) a marine licence must be obtained prior to the construction, alteration or improvement of any works, deposit of any substance or object in or over the sea, or on or under the seabed, or to carry out activities such as dredging.
  2. If applications for both a marine licence under the MCAA 2009 and consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 are made where the Scottish Ministers are the determining authority, a note may be issued to the applicant stating that both applications will be subject to the same administrative procedure. In this case, this ensures that the two related applications may be considered at the same time.

                        Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations

  1. Through The Marine Environment (EU Exit) (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, which came into force on EU Exit Day (31 January 2020), the requirements established under the EIA Directive (2011/92/EU, as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU) (as transposed into UK law) continue to be applicable, subject to only minor changes. Therefore, the Directive continues to set the framework for the EIA process in Scotland and is relevant to any application in Scottish waters for a Section 36 consent or a marine licence.
  2. The following statutory instruments implement the EIA Directive into Scottish law:
  • in respect to a Section 36 consent application: The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017; and
  • in respect to a marine licence application: The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007.
  1. When applying for Section 36 consent or a marine licence, there is a requirement for an EIA Report to be prepared and submitted to support applications where the proposed development is likely to have a significant effect on the environment due to factors such as its size, nature or location, to comply with the aforementioned Regulations. For installations for the harnessing of wind power for energy production (wind farms), an EIA is required (Schedule 2).

1.5.3. The Habitats Directive, Bird Directive and Associated Regulations

  1. In 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC (The Habitats Directive) was adopted, which allowed the EU to meet its obligations under the Bern Convention. The Directive aims to maintain or restore natural habitats and wild species listed on the Annexes at a favourable conservation status, with protection granted through designation of European Sites (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)) and European Protected Species (EPS). The European Directive (2009/147/EC) on the conservation of wild birds (The Birds Directive) provides a framework for the conservation and management of wild birds within Europe. Rare and vulnerable species listed under Annex I of the Birds Directive, and regularly occurring migratory species, are given protection through identification and designation of Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
  2. The Directives are given effect in Scottish Law by various regulations including, primarily:
  1. Hereafter, these are referred to as the Habitats Regulations.
  2. The Habitat Regulations require appropriate assessment of any plan or project which is likely to have a significant effect on a designated site, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, in view of the site’s conservation objectives. Therefore, Marine Scotland are required to consider whether the Array is likely to have significant effects on the conservation objectives of the sites considered in the Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA). Where Likely Significant Effects (LSE, as defined by the Habitat Regulations) cannot be excluded at the screening stage, and in the absence of mitigation measures, an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ of the implication of the plan or project must be undertaken by the competent authority prior to granting consent for the proposed project.
  3. Appendix 4 provides further details of the LSE Screening and HRA process. A standalone LSE Screening Report has been prepared and submitted for consideration alongside this Scoping Report.

1.5.4. European Protected Species Licensing

  1. EPS are animal and plant species listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive which are given protection under The Habitats Regulations 2017 (as amended). All cetacean species (whales, dolphins and porpoise) are EPSs. An EPS licence is required where an activity is likely to cause disturbance or injury, to ensure that the activity is undertaken legally.
  2. Subsea noise disturbance to marine mammals due to piling construction activities is one such activity which can be licenced under EPS licences. EPS licences are granted by NatureScot or the Scottish Ministers, depending on the species subject to the licence application. The granting of EPS licences is separate to the Section 36 and marine licence application process; however, it can be considered in parallel by Marine Scotland.

1.5.5. Decommissioning

  1. Statutory requirements in relation to the decommissioning of offshore renewable energy installations (OREIs) and their related electricity lines are set out in Sections 105 to 114 of the Energy Act 2004 (as amended by the Energy Act 2008 and the Scotland Act 2016) (hereafter referred to as the Energy Act). Scottish Ministers may require a person who is responsible for these installations or lines in Scottish waters or in a Scottish part of a REZ to prepare (and carry out) a costed Decommissioning Programme for submission to and approval by Scottish Ministers under the terms of the Energy Act (Marine Scotland, 2018).
  2. Appendix 4 provides further details on decommissioning.