1 Aims, Scope and Format of the Road Map
1.1 Background and Aims
Phase 2 of the former Firth of Forth Zone includes Berwick Bank Wind Farm for which consents and licences (as set out below) are being sought. This Project includes both the offshore wind turbine generators (hereafter referred to as wind turbines) and associated offshore infrastructure, as well as onshore grid connection and associated infrastructure.
The Ornithology Road Map covers assessments in relation to the Berwick Bank Wind Farm, seaward of Mean High-Water Springs (MHWS), including impacts on the inter-tidal zone. This Road Map does not consider onshore impacts of onshore infrastructure (landward of MHWS).
Consent and licence applications for the onshore and offshore components of the Project are being submitted separately. The offshore components of the Project are hereafter referred to as ‘The Proposed Development’.
Key components of the Proposed Development include:
- wind turbines;
- wind turbine foundations;
- inter-array cables;
- offshore substation platforms (OSPs)/Offshore convertor station platforms; and
- offshore export cables.
The Proposed Development requires the following consents, licences and permissions:
- a Section 36 consent under the Electricity Act 1989;
- a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA) 2009;
- a marine licence under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 for the part of the offshore export cables which is within 12 Nautical Miles (NM) of the coast; and
- planning permission under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 for all infrastructure located landward of Mean Low Water Springs (MLWS) and seaward of MHWS.
The aim of this Ornithology Road Map is to support agreement with key stakeholders on the information provided by Berwick Bank Wind Farm Limited (BBWFL), a wholly owned subsidiary of SSE Renewables Limited (hereafter referred to as the Applicant) in relation to the Offshore and Intertidal Ornithology chapter of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Report to Inform the Appropriate Assessment (RIAA), as part of the Section 36 Consent Application and Marine Licence Applications for the Proposed Development. This Ornithology Road Map documents discussions and agreements between the Applicant and the key stakeholders listed in section 2.
This Ornithology Road Map seeks to ensure that the information supplied in the consent Applications listed above is compliant with the requirements of the following regulations, hereafter referred to as the EIA Regulations:
- Section 36 consent application: The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017;
- marine licence application: The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 and The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007; and
- a planning application: The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.
As well as the following regulations, hereafter referred to as the Habitats Regulations:
- the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended);
- the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended); and
- the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended)1 (which apply to marine licences and Section 36 applications within the Scottish Offshore region.
As part of engagement in the Ornithology Road Map process, it was envisaged that the Applicant and key stakeholders would:
- provide information in a timely manner;
- be transparent and consistent in provision of advice;
- provide effective involvement in the stakeholder engagement process;
- aim to adhere to the programme of meetings set out in this Road Map (see section 3); and
- seek to identify any issues or additional data requirements as early as possible.
The Applicant sought to provide this Road Map as an accurate record of meetings held, discussions undertaken and points of agreement relating to the offshore EIA and Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) ornithology assessments.
The Ornithology Road Map was used as a tool to facilitate early and on-going engagement with key stakeholders, throughout the pre-application phase of the Proposed Development up to the point of Application submission. This included consultation on the developing baseline characterisation, approaches to data analysis, collision risk modelling and displacement methodologies, the use of modelling tools, and development of the final application documentation. An Ornithology Road Map tracker spreadsheet was developed as a ‘live’ document which was used to reach and record points of agreement and outcomes, for example on parameters to be used within collision risk modelling (CRM) work, and agreeing the level of assessment that were presented for impacts scoped in to the offshore EIA and RIAA, so that the focus in the assessment documents in support of the Application are on likely significant effects as defined by the EIA Regulations, and Likely Significant Effects (LSE) as defined by European case law associated with the Habitat Directive.
The Ornithology Road Map sought to agree the following as a minimum, however additional points of agreement/discussion were required, and these were discussed with key stakeholders and documented within this Road Map:
- The use of the MRSea software tool for determining baseline densities of seabirds;
- Species to be assessed for CRM and displacement assessments;
- Use of deterministic (Band) CRM model or Stochastic CRM, including CRM Options, flight heights, avoidance rates and other assessment parameters);
- Displacement rates and mortality rates for breeding and non-breeding seasons, plus the use of the SeabORD tool;
- Apportioning methods (NatureScot interim guidance and the Marine Scotland Science apportioning tool);
- Seasonal definitions;
- Approach to cumulative and in-combination assessments;
- Clarification on a number of issues raised in the Scoping Opinion; and
- Scope and methodology for the Ecosystems assessment.
For all the above, the Ornithology Road Map sought to record key areas of agreement and outstanding points of discussion. Full minutes of the ornithology Road Map meetings are presented in Annex A.
Agreement on Digital Area Survey and intertidal survey scopes were agreed prior to this Road Map process, and consideration of survey scopes is therefore not included further in this Road Map as no modifications were raised. However, the treatment of replacement monthly surveys was discussed.
Figure 1.1 Open ▸ outlines the key stages of the EIA and HRA processes, and how the Ornithology Road Map proposed to facilitate engagement during key stages and steps. The first stage of the Ornithology Road Map process was to agree the aims, scope and format of the Road Map, and the proposed timetable for engagement as set out in this document.
The remainder of the Ornithology Road Map is set out as follows:
- section 2: identifies the key stakeholders to the Ornithology Road Map;
- section 3: outlines the proposed offshore EIA and HRA programmes for the Proposed Development. It includes the anticipated programme of meetings and provides a record of meetings that have taken place in relation to the ornithology EIA and HRA assessments; and,
- section 4: provides a summary of discussions, areas of agreement and areas of outstanding discussion points in relation to the ornithology EIA and HRA assessments. The aim was to have as few issues as possible outstanding at the point of Application submission.
2 Key Stakeholders
It was proposed that the aims of the Ornithology Road Map would be achieved through engagement with the following key statutory stakeholders:
- Marine Scotland Licencing and Operations Team (MS-LOT);
- Marine Scotland Science (MSS);
- NatureScot; and,
- The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
The aforementioned key stakeholders attended all six meetings held.
Table 2.1 Open ▸ sets out the remit, role in the offshore EIA/HRA processes and the key contact for each of the stakeholders listed above.
Consultation with Natural England was undertaken through the offshore EIA Scoping and offshore LSE screening stages, not directly through the Road Map process.
3.1 Ornithology EIA and HRA programme for the Proposed Development
Table 3.1 Open ▸ below sets out the programme for key stages of the pre-application process in relation to the Berwick Bank Wind Farm.
3.2 Programme of Ornithology Road Map Meetings
Table 3.2 Open ▸ sets out the programme for stakeholder meetings in relation to key aspects of ornithological technical assessments. These were scheduled to take place at key points of the pre-application phase and were in line with the key deliverables set out in Table 3.1 Open ▸ and the Ornithology Road Map process. The meetings listed in Table 3.2 Open ▸ are also listed within Figure 1.1 Open ▸ . All meetings were held via conference calls unless otherwise specified. This was due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions throughout the pre-Application phase.
The Applicant has presented an overview of the consenting and Road Map process and the points of discussion that have taken place as part of this Ornithology Road Map, with full details given in the Road Map meeting minutes, Annex A. In addition, as requested by MS-LOT an Audit Document for Post-Scoping Discussions has also been provided in volume 3, appendix 5.1, summarising key points of advice received subsequent to receipt of the Berwick Bank Scoping Opinion in February 2022 and LSE screening advice, and how these have been addressed in the Application documents.
3.3 Record of Ornithology Meetings
Table 3.3 Open ▸ records the meetings that have taken place, the attendees and the key discussion points in relation to the ornithology EIA and HRA assessments. A tracker summarising key discussion points was maintained by SSE to record the key points of discussion. Table 3.3 Open ▸ does not record full minutes, however a meeting minute reference is provided for each meeting in this table and meeting minutes were circulated following each meeting. Meeting minutes are included in Annex A.
4 Record of Discussions
This section of the Ornithology Road Map summarises discussions and areas of agreement or outstanding discussion points following each meeting as set out in section 3. Further detail on key aspects of discussion are provided in meeting minutes which are appended to this Road Map (Annex A).
4.1 Key Issues and Assessment Parameters
This section aims to document and agree key areas of agreement and outstanding discussion points associated with the ornithology assessment for the Proposed Development EIA and HRA. These include the following:
- The use of modelling software, including MRSea, SeabORD and MSS Apportioning Tool; and,
- Assessment parameters to be used in CRM and Displacement assessment
Table 4.1 Open ▸ summarises the points of discussion, areas of agreement and outstanding discussion points in relation to the Offshore and Intertidal Ornithology assessment for the Proposed Development.
4.1.1 Summary Statement of Final Position
The approach to parameters and models used in CRM, displacement and apportioning have been discussed throughout the Road Map meetings. In most cases, a consensus position was arrived at prior to the Scoping Opinion being issued. Road Map Meeting 6 was used to discuss items flagged for further discussion in the Scoping Opinion.
However, in some cases there was disagreement between the developer and Marine Scotland/NatureScot regarding some parameters and methods to be used for the ornithology assessment. As a result, the submission presented two full assessments; one based on the MS-LOT Scoping Opinion (Scoping Approach) and one based on the Developer Approach, with appropriate justification given for the latter. Further detail is given within the Technical Reports for Collision Risk Modelling (Appendix 11.3) and Displacement (Appendix 11.4).
The aim of the Ornithology Road Map was to ensure that the final consent Application submitted provides MS-LOT and its statutory advisors with sufficient information with which to make a determination. This document has set out the meetings, agreements and also highlighted how differences in approaches have been presented in relation to the ornithology topic for the offshore EIA and HRA.
Annex A: Ornithology Road map meeting minutes