6.2.8. Proposed Approach to the Environmental Impact Assessment

  1. The methodology set out in section 4 will be followed when preparing the Fish and Shellfish Ecology chapter of the Array EIA Report. The following guidance documents will also be considered with regard to fish and shellfish ecology:
  • Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) in the UK and Ireland. Terrestrial, Freshwater, Coastal and Marine (CIEEM, 2019);
  • Consenting, EIA, and Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) Guidance for Marine Renewable Energy Developments in Scotland (European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Xodus, 2010); and
  • Guidance on Environmental Considerations for Offshore Wind Farm Development (OSPAR, 2008).
  1. Diadromous fish will be included in the fish and shellfish ecology impact assessment. A separate section covering sensitivity of and implications of the impact on diadromous fish in each impact assessment will be included. Discussion with stakeholders throughout the consultation process will be undertaken to finalise the approach and focus of these impact assessments.
  2. The importance of key forage fish species, such as herring, sandeels and sprat, as prey for other fauna (such as marine mammals and birds) will be assessed in section 6.3 and section 6.4. These will be informed by clear outputs provided in the Fish and Shellfish Ecology chapter of the Array EIA Report.
  3. Herring and sandeel habitat suitability assessments will be informed by data collected as part of the benthic subtidal ecology survey (Appendix 7). This will be undertaken in line with good industry practice guidelines and informed by discussion with stakeholders during the consultation process.
  4. A detailed baseline characterisation for the Array will be presented in a Fish and Shellfish Ecology Technical Report. This will be informed using site-specific survey data and the most recent desktop data (see Appendix 8 for further details). This report will inform the Fish and Shellfish Ecology chapter of the Array EIA Report.

6.2.9. Potential Cumulative Effects

  1. The key cumulative effect on fish and shellfish ecology is likely to arise from increased subsea noise during piling which has the potential to have a zone of influence (ZoI) extending beyond the site boundary. There is the potential for cumulative effects in-combination with other offshore wind farm developments in the region (including the Proposed offshore export cable corridor(s) and Proposed onshore export cable corridor(s)) where piling is conducted concurrently or sequentially. Noise propagation modelling will be used to determine a zone of influence associated with percussive piling and UXO clearance. The noise contours associated with these impacts will be used to screen for potential cumulative effects. 
  2. Predicted effects from other impacts associated with the Array during the construction, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning phases, are considered to be localised within or immediately adjacent to the footprint of the site boundary with no potential for cumulative effects. Section 4.3.7 outlines the approach that the cumulative effects assessment will be based upon.

6.2.10. Potential Transboundary Impacts

  1. Appendix 3 presents the transboundary impacts screening which has been carried out for the Array. This screening exercise identified that there is no potential for transboundary impacts upon fish and shellfish ecology due to construction, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning phases of the Array.

6.2.11. Scoping Questions to Consultees

  • Do you agree with the study area defined for fish and shellfish ecology?
  • Do you agree that the existing data available to describe the fish and shellfish ecology baseline remains sufficient to describe the baseline environment in relation to the Array? Are there any further desktop datasets which you would recommend are included?
  • Do you agree that the designed in measures described provides a suitable means for managing and mitigating the potential effects of the Array on the fish and shellfish ecology receptors?
  • Do you agree that all potential impacts ( Table 6.9   Open ▸ ) have been identified for fish and shellfish ecology?
  • Do you agree that the impacts described in Table 6.10   Open ▸ should be scoped out of the Array EIA for fish and shellfish ecology?

6.2.12. Next Steps

  1. The topic specific next step is to agree upon the assessment approach for fish and shellfish ecology and the potential impacts that will be assessed during the EIA process. This includes presenting the sensitivities of receptors that will be used in the assessment, and appropriate mitigation and monitoring to stakeholders. These impacts will be quantified using MDSs.
  2. In the event that any impacts cannot be quantitively assessed, they will be discussed with key stakeholders as part of the consultation process. The process for post-Scoping consultation is presented in the dSEP in Appendix 1.
  3. Potential monitoring (either site-specific or strategic) will be detailed in the Fish and Shellfish Ecology chapter of the Array EIA Report. This further monitoring will be discussed with stakeholders through the consultation process.