I am interested in finding out more about the recent results of the ScotWind offshore leasing application process from Crown Estate Scotland and wondered if it might be possible to ask a few questions?
- In the Crown Estate Scotland’s ‘Scotwind’ Leasing Launch Summary document it was stated that the draft SMP from Marine Scotland noted, ‘limiting the scale of development under the Plan to 10 GW is required to reduce or offset the potential environmental effects of development…’ The results of the ‘Scotwind’ seabed leasing round announced on the 17th January indicate the successful bidders in the 17 offshore wind projects have a total capacity of 25GW. Can you provide information to explain, generally, any potentially negative implications, in environmental terms, if this much greater GW capacity is in fact realised, including any potentially negative effects on the marine environment, seabird life and marine mammals as well as any effects on other marine users?
- As I understand, in the Crown Estate’s Offshore Leasing Round 4 in England and Wales, the Crown Estate had placed a capped GW capacity (7.9GW) when offering areas of seabed to potential bidders. Can you provide information to explain, in general terms, the decision to not place a cap on the capacity in the Crown Estate Scotland’s seabed leasing application/bidding process? And was this decision taken by Crown Estate Scotland or a decision led by the Scottish Government?
- There have been recent offshore wind leasing applications offered up by both the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland. Can you advise to what extent, if any, there is a shared approach to the application process or are the two organisations operating independently?
I would be grateful for any information, however brief, that can be provided.
- 25GW is the sum of the generating aspirations stated by the successful developers. Developers’ plans and ambitions will now be subject to Marine Scotland’s consenting process which will examine and consult on the impact of the proposals on the marine environment and other users of the marine environment. The process will take the Sectoral Marine Plan (SMP) as its guiding planning framework and operate within the context of the impacts assessed in the SMP. The assessment of these impacts may be adjusted should there be new evidence or advances in technology. The SMP has a built-in iterative review process to enable such updates. At this stage, ScotWind is only offering Option Agreements for areas of seabed. Leases can only be secured once the projects have gained consent from Scottish Ministers as the consenting authority. In reaching their decision, Scottish Ministers will consider advice from Marine Scotland.
- Response: The SMP indicated that a total area of up to 8,600km2 within Plan Options could be offered for Option Agreements through ScotWind thereby utilising spatial limits rather than a capacity cap. ScotWind set limits on the amount of seabed that can be leased but not on generation as those figures are very much subject to change as projects develop. This was a leasing decision made by Crown Estate Scotland and incorporated by Scottish Government into the SMP.
- Response: There is not a shared approach to the offshore wind leasing processes run by The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland; the two organisations operate independently.