1. Introduction

1.1. Berwick Bank Wind Farm Overview

  1. Berwick Bank Wind Farm Limited (BBWFL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of SSE Renewables Limited and will hereafter be referred to as the Applicant. The Applicant is developing the Berwick Bank Wind Farm (hereafter referred to as ‘the Project’).
  1. The Project is a proposed offshore wind farm located in the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, approximately 37.8 km east of the Scottish Borders coastline (St. Abb’s Head) and 47.6 km from the East Lothian coastline (see Figure 1.1   Open ▸ ). The Project comprises the offshore components of the Project (hereafter referred to as the ‘Proposed Development’) and onshore infrastructure required to generate and transmit electricity from the Proposed Development array area to a Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) 400kV Grid Substation located at Branxton, southwest of Torness Power station. The offshore export cables will make landfall on the East Lothian coast, at Skateraw.
  2. This report focuses on the offshore components of the Proposed Development which includes the offshore wind farm (the wind turbines, their foundations and associated inter-array cabling), together with associated infrastructure including Offshore Substation Platforms (OSPs)/Offshore Converter Station Platforms, their foundations and the offshore export cables and cable protection.
  3. The Applicant has prepared separate Applications for consents, licences and permissions for the offshore (seaward of mean high water springs (MHWS)) and onshore (landward of mean low water springs (MLWS)) infrastructure of the Project. The consents, licences and permissions that will be sought by the Applicant for the Proposed Development include:
  • a Section 36 consent under the Electricity Act 1989 for project infrastructure in the Scottish offshore region (12-200 nm) where generating capacity exceeds 50 megawatts (MW);
  • Marine Licences under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (0 to 12 nm) and the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA) 2009 (Scottish waters beyond 12 nm) for the following:

-            Generating station (wind turbines, wind turbine foundations and inter array-cables);

-            Transmission infrastructure (OSPs/convertor station platforms, inter-array cables and offshore export cables); and

  • planning permission under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 2010 for Project infrastructure landward of MLWS.
    1. In July 2022, National Grid Electricity Systems Operator (NGESO) announced as part of its Holistic Network Review, that the Applicant has signed an agreement for an additional grid connection at Blyth, Northumberland (referred to as the Cambois connection). Necessary consents for the Cambois connection (including marine licences) will be applied for separately once further development work has been undertaken on this export cable corridor route and landfall. These Applications will be supported by an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA). The Cambois connection has also been included as an in-combination project for the purposes of this Offshore HRA and assessed based on the information available at the point of assessment.
    2. The Project is an amalgamation of two previously proposed and separate wind farms – Berwick Bank (hereafter ‘2020 Berwick Bank’) and Marr Bank, which were initially to be located next to each other in the Firth of Forth Zone. Up to July 2021, the Applicant progressed the EIA and HRA processes for these separate offshore wind farms. In July 2021, the Applicant made several changes to the consenting strategies for the projects, including the decision to combine the two separate projects into a single Project – Berwick Bank Wind Farm.
    3. In October 2020, the Applicant consulted on a HRA Screening Report for the 2020 Berwick Bank proposal (SSER, 2020) which was to be located approximately 43km east of the East Lothian and 33.5 km east of Scottish Borders coastline from the nearest boundary with an array area of approximately 775 km2. Advice on Likely Significant Effects (LSE) Screening (as it pertained to the 2020 Berwick Bank proposal) was received by the Applicant on 11 May 2021. Following the receipt of the 2020 Berwick Bank Screening Report Response, the Applicant submitted a Berwick Bank Wind Farm Offshore HRA Screening Report to the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT) for the Proposed Development (hereafter, the HRA Stage One Screening Report) in October 2021 (SSER, 2021b). LSE screening advice was received in February 2022 together with EIA Scoping advice (MS-LOT, 2022). In supporting the HRA for the Proposed Development, consideration has been given to the responses from Scottish Ministers to the HRA Stage One Screening Report for the Proposed Development. As far as responses provided in relation to 2020 Berwick Bank are relevant to the Proposed Development, or the Applicant has been directed to refer to them, the Applicant has relied on these responses to guide the scope of the HRA. Such responses are categorised within the term “relevant consultation undertaken to date”.
    4. The boundary of the Proposed Development is a reduction of the combined boundaries of 2020 Berwick Bank and Marr Bank Wind Farm (which previously covered up to 1,314 km2). In May 2022, the Berwick Bank Wind Farm boundary was revised again, and the Proposed Development array area was reduced by approximately 20%. The area covered by the Proposed Development has been reduced to 1,010.2 km2. No significant changes have been made to the Proposed Development export cable corridor or landfall or the Proposed Development array area. This ‘Report to Inform the Appropriate Assessment’ (RIAA) has been developed for the Proposed Development and considers the Proposed Development boundary and updated Project Design Envelope (PDE) (see section 4) which form the basis of the consent Application(s). The MS-LOT advised in 2022 that the Proposed Development did not need to be re-scoped with respect to these boundary modifications.
    5. Key components of the Proposed Development include:
  • wind turbines;
  • wind turbine foundations;
  • inter-array cables;
  • interconnector cables;
  • OSPs/Offshore converter station platforms; and
  • offshore export cables.

1.2. Habitats Regulations Appraisal

  1. Following the United Kingdom’s (UK) departure from the EU on 31 December 2020 (EU Exit), the UK is no longer an EU Member State. Notwithstanding, the Directive, as implemented by the Habitats Regulations, continues to provide the legislative backdrop for HRA. The changes implemented by EU Exit Regulations including the Conservation of Habitats and Species Amendment (EU Exit) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 (“EU Exit Regulations”) have implemented only minor changes to the HRA regime. These changes are considered to have no material implications on the requirement or process for a HRA for the Project.
  2. The Habitats Regulations require that an Appropriate Assessment must be carried out on all plans and projects that are likely to have a significant effect on a European site. European sites include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), candidate SACs (cSACs), Sites of Community Importance (SCI), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and, as a matter of policy (Scottish Government, 2020), possible SACs (pSACs), potential SPAs (pSPAs) and Ramsar Sites (listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance – where also designated as a European site).
  3. In this report, and in accordance with EU Exit guidance issued by the Scottish Government, the term “European site” has been retained to refer to the above sites protected in European Member States, Scotland and the rest of the UK (Scottish Government, 2020). However, where these sites are located in the UK, they now form part of the National Site Network. Post EU-Exit, the Habitats Regulations continue to refer to Annexes I and II of the Habitats Directive and Annex I of the Birds Directive and as such, reference is made to the annexes of the Habitats and Birds Directives in this report.

1.3. The Purpose of this RIAA

  1. The RIAA has been prepared by RPS and Royal HaskoningDHV on behalf of the Applicant to support the HRA of the Proposed Development in the determination of the implications for European sites. The RIAA builds upon the HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b) completed in October 2021 and subsequent joint EIA Scoping and LSE Screening advice received in the Berwick Bank Wind Farm Scoping Opinion (MS-LOT, 2022) in February 2022 and considers the likely significant environmental effects of the Proposed Development as they relate to relevant European site integrity at Stage Two of the HRA process. This report will provide the competent authority with the information required to undertake an HRA Stage Two Appropriate Assessment (see section 2 for more detail on the HRA process).
  2. The scope of this document covers all relevant European sites and relevant qualifying interest features where LSEs have been identified due to impacts arising from the Proposed Development. This includes both ‘offshore’ European sites and features (seaward of MHWS) and ‘onshore’ European sites (landward of MLWS). A parallel onshore HRA process has been undertaken for elements of the Project which take place above MHWS (as reported in Berwick Bank Wind Farm Onshore HRA Screening Report (SSER, 2021c), and these onshore elements will be considered here through in-combination assessment.

1.4. Progress to Date

  1. In accordance with the Habitats Regulations, a Screening exercise for the Proposed Development has been undertaken to support Stage One of the HRA process. The purpose of the Screening exercise was to determine whether the Proposed Development could result in an LSE on a European site, with reference to the Conservation Objectives of the site. The Screening exercise determined that LSEs from elements of the Proposed Development could not be discounted at Stage One.
  2. The HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b) presents the Screening exercise, the purpose of which is summarised below:
  • Identification of the relevant European sites which may include features (Annex I habitats, Annex I birds and Annex II species) which may be sensitive or vulnerable to potential effects arising from the construction, operation and maintenance and decommissioning of the Proposed Development;
  • Consideration of the features of relevant European sites and identification of those which are not considered likely to be at risk of significant effects arising from the Proposed Development, either alone or in-combination with other plans or projects, so that they can be eliminated from further consideration within the HRA process;
  • Consideration of features of relevant European sites and identification of those which are considered likely to be at risk of significant effects so that they can be taken forward to HRA Stage Two Appropriate Assessment; and
  • Consideration of which of the potential impacts arising from the Proposed Development, either alone or in-combination with other plans or projects, are considered likely to result in LSEs to features of European sites and which impacts can be eliminated from consideration in further stages of the HRA[1].
    1. HRA is an iterative process. Since the HRA Stage One Screening Report was shared with consultees in October 2021, aspects of the Proposed Development’s design have evolved (see section 4). Consultation representation and advice with respect to the HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b) were received along with the Scoping Opinion from MS-LOT on 4 February 2022. Consultation responses were also received as part of the Road Map consultation process for the Proposed Development (see section 3). The potential implications of these design changes on the HRA Screening exercise have been considered and a summary of the Screening exercise for the Proposed Development is provided in the relevant sections of the RIAA (i.e. Part Two for SACs and Part Three for SPAs). Where any changes to the HRA Screening outcomes presented in the HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b) have been made as a result of consultation, these are highlighted in the relevant Parts and sections of the RIAA.

1.5. Structure of the RIAA

  1. For clarity and ease of navigation, this RIAA is structured and reported in several ‘Parts’, as follows:
  • Executive Summary and Conclusions;
  • Part One (this document) – Introduction and Background;
  • Part Two – Consideration of SACs; and
  • Part Three – Consideration of SPAs.
    1. Each ‘Part’ of the RIAA is supported by a series of topic specific appendices and relevant documentation including European Site Summaries.

1.6. Structure of this Document

  1. This document constitutes Part One of the RIAA and is structured as follows:
  • Chapter 1: Introduction – this section (section 1) describes the Proposed Development and establishes the need for, and the purpose and structure of, the RIAA.
  • Chapter 2: Habitats Regulations Appraisal – this section (section 2) sets out the process, principles, tests, (including those established by case law) and guidance applied to the RIAA.
  • Chapter 3: Consultation – this section (section 3) provides a summary of the consultation undertaken (full details of the responses provided, and how these have been addressed, are considered in Parts Two and Three of the RIAA).
  • Chapter 4: Information on the Proposed Development - drawing on the information presented in the Offshore EIA Report, this section (section 4) sets out information on the Proposed Development, considered pertinent to the HRA Stage 2 Appropriate Assessment. This includes relevant maximum design parameters and design updates since HRA Stage One Screening.

Figure 1.1:
Location of the Proposed Development

Figure 1.1: Location of the Proposed Development

2. Habitats Regulations Appraisal

2.1. Legislative Context

  1. The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, protects habitats and species of European nature conservation importance. Together with Council Directive (2009/147/EC) on the conservation of wild birds (the ‘Birds Directive’), the Habitats Directive establishes a network of internationally important sites, designated for their ecological status. This network of designated sites is comprised of the following:
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which are designated under the Habitats Directive and promote the protection of flora, fauna and habitats; and
  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which are designated under the Birds Directive in order to protect rare, vulnerable and migratory birds.
    1. SACs are designated for the conservation of Annex I habitats (including priority types which are in danger of disappearance) and Annex II species (other than birds). SPAs are designated for the conservation of Annex I birds and other regularly occurring migratory birds and their habitats. The annexed habitats and species for which each site is designated correspond to the qualifying interest features of the sites. From these features, the Conservation Objectives of the site are derived.
    2. The UK is no longer an EU Member State. Notwithstanding, the Habitats Directive as implemented by the Habitats Regulations continue to provide the legislative backdrop for HRA in the UK. The HRA process implemented under the Habitats Regulations continues to apply (subject to minor changes effected by the EU Exit Regulations) and the UK is currently bound by HRA judgments handed down by The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) prior 31 to December 2020[2].
    3. The objective of the Habitats Regulations is to conserve, at a favourable conservation status (FCS), those habitats and species listed in Annexes I and II of the Habitats Directive and Annex I of the Wild Birds Directive.
    4. In addition to sites formally defined as European sites in the Habitats Regulations, Scottish Planning Policy (Scottish Government, 2020) acknowledges that Ramsar sites are afforded the same protection where they are also designated as a European site. As a matter of Scottish planning policy, the Scottish Government also states that authorities should afford the same level of protection to proposed SACs and SPAs (i.e. sites which have been approved by Scottish Ministers for formal consultation but which have not yet been designated) as they do to sites which have been designated (Scottish Government, 2020).
    5. Under the Habitats Regulations, before granting approval (i.e. planning permissions, licenses and consents) for a development likely to have a significant effect on an SAC or SPA/Ramsar site, an Appropriate Assessment must be made by the competent authority, of the proposed plan or project’s potential for adverse effects on integrity of the site in view of that site’s Conservation Objectives.

2.2. European Sites (Post EU Exit)

  1. The National Site Network comprises of European sites in the UK that already existed (i.e. were established under the Habitats or Birds Directives) on 31 December 2020 (or proposed to the European Commission (EC) before that date) and any new sites designated under the Habitats Regulations under an amended designation process.

2.3. The HRA Process

  1. HRA is generally recognised as a progressive, four-stage process built around the wording of Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive, with the outcome at each stage defining the requirement for and scope of the next. These stages are summarised in Figure 2.1   Open ▸ .
  2. Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive requires that: “Any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, shall be subject to appropriate assessment of its implications for the site in view of the site’s conservation objectives. In the light of the conclusions of the assessment of the implications for the site and subject to the provisions of paragraph 4, the competent national authorities shall agree to the plan or project only after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned and if appropriate, after having obtained the opinion of the general public”.
  3. Thus, Article 6(3) provides a two-stage process:
  • The first stage involves a screening for LSE; and
  • The second stage arises where, having screened the proposed development, the relevant competent authority determines that an appropriate assessment is required, in which case it must then carry out that appropriate assessment.
    1. This RIAA is concerned with the second stage of the process (i.e. the appropriate assessment), which seeks to assess and decide whether a plan or project, alone or in combination with other projects or plans, will have an adverse effect on the integrity of a European site. This RIAA also summarises the conclusions of the HRA Stage 1 Screening Report (SSER, 2021b) and updates made to the screening conclusions, since this was published in October 2021, to account for feedback received from stakeholders during consultation.
    2. The EU-Exit Regulations establish management objectives for the national site network. These are called the network objectives[3]. The objectives in relation to the National Site Network are to:
  • i) maintain or restore certain habitats and species listed in the Habitats Directive to favourable conservation status (FCS); and
  • ii) contribute to ensuring the survival and reproduction of certain species of wild bird in their area of distribution and to maintaining their populations at levels which correspond to ecological, scientific and cultural requirements, while taking account of economic and recreational requirements.

Figure 2.1:
Stages in the Habitats Regulations Appraisal Process (Taken from European Commission, 2021)

Figure 2.1: Stages in the Habitats Regulations Appraisal Process (Taken from European Commission, 2021)

2.4. Guidance

  1. Following the UK’s departure from the EU, reference to EC guidance on the interpretation of HRA concepts continues to apply. Scottish Government (December 2020) EU Exit: The Habitats Regulations in Scotland (Marine Scotland, 2020) states that in the longer term, guidance may be updated and/or new guidance may be produced, for example to replace guidance by the European Commission. However, in the shorter term existing guidance continues to apply and should still be used.
  2. Accordingly, this RIAA is undertaken in accordance with the following guidance documents:
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (January 2015) (Published 2019)[4] Habitats Regulations Appraisal of Plans - Guidance for plan-making bodies in Scotland - Jan 2015;
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (2019) SNH Guidance Note: The handling of mitigation in Habitats Regulations Appraisal – the People Over Wind CJEU judgement;
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (2016) Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) on the Firth of Forth A Guide for developers and regulators;
  • Scottish Government (2013) HRA Advice Sheet 1 - Aligning Development Planning procedures with Habitats Regulations Appraisal requirements (Version 1 - July 2012);
  • Scottish Government (2018). Marine Scotland Consenting and Licensing Guidance for Offshore Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy Applications. October 2018;
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (2014). Natura Casework Guidance: How to consider plans and projects affecting Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). February 2014;
  • European Commission (EC) (2021) Assessment of plans and projects in relation to Natura 2000 sites - Methodological guidance on Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC. European Commission Notice Brussels C(2021) 6913 final;
  • EC (2020) Guidance document on wind energy developments and EU nature legislation. European Commission Notice Brussels C(2020) 7730 final;
  • EC (2018) Managing Natura 2000 sites. The provisions of Article 6 of the 'Habitats' Directive 92/43/EEC’;
  • EC (2007) Guidance document on Article 6(4) of the 'Habitats Directive' 92/43/EE. Clarification on the Concepts of: Alternative Solutions, Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest, Compensatory Measures, Overall Coherence, Opinion of the Commission;
  • EC (2006) Nature and Biodiversity Cases Ruling of the European Court of Justice; and
  • The Habitats Regulations Assessment Handbook (Tyldesley and Chapman, 2021).
    1. Reference has further been made to the following publications in Scotland and England that seek to explain the changes made to the Habitats Regulations to make them operable from 1 January 2021:
  • Scottish Government (December 2020) EU Exit: The Habitats Regulations in Scotland (Marine Scotland, 2020); and
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (January 2021) Policy Paper - Changes to the Habitats Regulations 2017 (DEFRA, 2021).
    1. The statutory nature conservation bodies (SNCBs) have produced conservation advice for European sites under their statutory remit. This conservation advice provides information on sites and features and guidance on how to achieve FCS. Conservation advice is discussed further in Part Two and Part 3 of the RIAA.

2.5. Relevant Case Law

  1. The caselaw that defines key assessment parameters such as the definition of “integrity” and “significance”, the consideration of ex situ effects and the consideration of mitigation measures are discussed in section 2.5.1, section 2.5.2 and section 2.5.3.

2.5.1.    Consideration of Mitigation Measures

  1. The CJEU ruled that mitigation measures could not be taken into account at the screening stage of appropriate assessment in C-323/17 ‘People Over Wind and Sweetman v Coillte Teoranta’ (April 2018) (Sweetman 2). This judgement was complied with during screening stage for the Proposed Development and no mitigation measures were considered in the HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b).

2.5.2.    Adverse Effects on the Integrity of European Site

  1. The European Commission’s guidance on managing Natura 2000 sites (EC, 2018) advises that the purpose of the appropriate assessment is to assess the implications of the plan or project in respect of the site’s Conservation Objectives, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects. The conclusions should enable the competent authorities to ascertain whether the plan or project will adversely affect the integrity of the site concerned. The focus of the appropriate assessment is therefore specifically on the species and/or the habitats for which the European site is designated.
  2. EC (2018) also emphasises the importance of using the best scientific knowledge when carrying out the appropriate assessment in order to enable the competent authorities to conclude with certainty that there will be no adverse effects on the integrity of the site. This guidance notes that it is at the time of the decision authorising implementation of the project that there must be no reasonable scientific doubt remaining as to the absence of adverse effects on the integrity of the site in question.
  3. The judgment of the CJEU confirmed in its ruling in Case C-258/11 that ‘Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive must be interpreted as meaning that a plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a site will adversely affect the integrity of that site if it is liable to prevent the lasting preservation of the constitutive characteristics of the site that are connected to the presence of a priority natural habitat whose conservation was the objective justifying the designation of the site in the list of SCIs, in accordance with the directive. The precautionary principle should be applied for the purposes of that appraisal’. EC (2018) advises that the logic of such an interpretation would also be relevant to non-priority habitat types and to habitats of species.
  4. The ‘integrity of the site’ can be usefully defined as the coherent sum of the site’s ecological structure, function and ecological processes, across its whole area, which enables it to sustain the habitats, complex of habitats and/or populations of species for which the site is designated (EC, 2018). In Sweetman, Ireland, Attorney General, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government v An Bord Pleanála) (C-258/11) (Sweetman 1) it was determined that the ecological structure and function of a European site would be adversely affected with reference to the site’s overall ecological functions and “the lasting preservation of the constitutive characteristics of the site.” In a dynamic ecological context, it can also be considered as having the sense of resilience and ability to evolve in ways that are favourable to conservation (EC, 2018).
  5. EC (2018) notes that if the competent authority considers the mitigation measures are sufficient to avoid the adverse effects on site integrity identified in the appropriate assessment, they will become an integral part of the specification of the final plan or project or may be listed as a condition for project approval.
  6. EC (2020) advises that it is for the competent authorities, in the light of the conclusions made in the appropriate assessment on the implications of a plan or project for the European site concerned, to approve the plan or project. This decision can only be taken after they have made certain that the plan or project will not adversely affect the integrity of the site. That is the case where no reasonable scientific doubt remains as to the absence of such effects.
  7. EC (2020) also reaffirms that the authorisation criterion laid down in the second sentence of Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive integrates the precautionary principle and makes it possible to effectively to prevent the protected sites from suffering adverse effects on their integrity as the result of the plans or projects. A less stringent authorisation criterion could not as effectively ensure the fulfilment of the objective of site protection intended under that provision. The onus is therefore on demonstrating the absence of adverse effects rather than their presence, reflecting the precautionary principle. It follows that the appropriate assessment must be sufficiently detailed and reasoned to demonstrate the absence of adverse effects, in light of the best scientific knowledge in the field.
  8. In accordance with the Waddenzee Judgment[5], the measure of significance is made against the Conservation Objectives for which the sites were designated.

2.5.3.    Consideration of Ex Situ Effects

  1. EC (2018) advises that Article 6(3) and Article 6(4) safeguards be applied to European sites subject to LSEs from any development pressures, including those which are external to those European site(s).
  2. The CJEU developed this point when it issued a ruling in case C-461/17 (“Brian Holohan and Others v An Bord Pleanála”) that determined inter alia that Article 6(3) of Directive 92/43/EEC must be interpreted as meaning that an appropriate assessment must on the one hand, catalogue the entirety of habitat types and species for which a site is protected, and, on the other, identify and examine both the implications of the proposed project for the species present on that site, and for which that site has not been listed, and the implications for habitat types and species to be found outside the boundaries of that site, provided that those implications are liable to affect the Conservation Objectives of the site.
  3. In that regard, consideration has been given at Screening (and where necessary, based on the outcomes of that Screening) in this RIAA to implications for habitats and species located both inside and outside of the European sites with reference to those sites’ Conservation Objectives where effects upon those habitats and/or species are liable to affect the Conservation Objectives of the sites concerned.

3. Consultation

3.1.1.    The Road Map Process

  1. A ‘Road Map’ process has been undertaken to facilitate early engagement with stakeholders throughout the pre-Application phase of the Proposed Development. Road Maps have been produced for a number of topics and the HRA process which have been used as tools to reach and record points of agreement, for example assessment methodologies presented in the Offshore EIA Report and impacts screened-in to this RIAA. The Road Map process has facilitated focus in the RIAA to be on LSE, as defined by the Habitats Regulations.
  2. The Road Maps considered relevant for the purposes of HRA Stage Two Appropriate Assessment are those produced for the following topic groups:
  • Benthic, Fish and Shellfish and Physical Processes;
  • Marine Mammals; and
  • Offshore Ornithology.
    1. The Road Maps outlined the key stages of both the EIA and HRA processes and define the steps within each stage for discussion of important issues with stakeholders. At the conclusion of the Road Map process, three meetings had been held to discuss benthic ecology, fish and shellfish and coastal processes, four were held specifically to discuss the marine mammal assessments and six meetings were held for ornithology. The key discussion points arising during the various Road Map meetings are set out as part of the consultation summaries presented in Part Two (for SACs) and Part Three (for SPAs) of the RIAA.

3.1.2.    Consultation to Date

  1. Consultation has been undertaken with statutory stakeholders during key stages of the Proposed Development.
  2. As explained in section 1.4, consultation was undertaken with MS-LOT, Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), acting under its operating name NatureScot (hereinafter referred to as NatureScot) on the 2020 Berwick Bank proposal. Advice on the LSE Screening (as it pertained to the 2020 Berwick Bank proposal) was received on 11 May 2021. Comments applicable to the LSE Screening for the Proposed Development were taken into consideration, as far as is appropriate, in the HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b) and are listed in full in in Part Two (for SACs) and Part Three (for SPAs) of the RIAA as ‘relevant consultation to date’.
  3. Further, this RIAA has been developed alongside the Proposed Development’s Offshore EIA Report as part of the EIA process. Where design, supporting information or stakeholder feedback is common to both assessments this has been used, as referenced. The Offshore EIA Report for Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm was submitted to MS-LOT and shared with consultees in November 2022, together with this report.
  4. Statutory consultation was undertaken on the HRA Stage One Screening Report for the revised Proposed Development and advice on the LSE Screening was received on 4 February 2022.
  5. A summary of the details of all consultation undertaken to date which is relevant to the HRA process is presented in Part Two of the RIAA for SACs, and Part Three of the RIAA for SPAs.

3.1.3.    Transboundary Consultation

  1. Based on the outcomes of the HRA Stage One Screening Report (SSER, 2021b), it is considered that there is no potential for significant transboundary effects either alone, or in-combination, therefore, no transboundary consultation has been carried out with respect to this RIAA or its contents.