Draft Offshore Wind Policy Statement and Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy put out to consultation
Sites with the potential for offshore energy development have been identified around Scotland's coasts as part of two Scottish Government consultations.
The draft plans show where offshore wind, tidal and wave power could be expanded to help hit net-zero emissions targets while boosting remote and rural communities.
Views are being sought on the draft Offshore Wind Policy Statement and the draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy, which outlines ways of maximising the renewable potential in Scotland's waters.
The Scottish Government says the proposals also show "due regard" for the marine environment, other users of the sea and planning responsibilities.
The draft Sectoral Marine Plan will inform the next round of seabed leasing for offshore wind in Scottish waters, being taken forward on Scottish ministers’ behalf by Crown Estate Scotland.
Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Earlier this year the Scottish Government declared a climate emergency and outlined our commitment to become a net-zero emissions economy and society by 2045; a goal which will require significant growth in the available supply of renewable electricity as we decarbonise heat and transport systems.
"The offshore wind sector is already playing an increasingly vital role in helping us to realise that ambition, but we want to make the most of the opportunities that sector represents, in terms of fixed foundation and floating wind technologies.
“Scotland is recognised internationally as a country with high ambition in terms of decarbonisation of our economy, and we are determined to build on our reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse.
"We aim to provide a supportive policy environment for offshore wind and leasing opportunities across our 462,000 square kilometres of seas that can sustain a healthy pipeline of sustainable projects capable of unlocking investment in the supply chain and providing both clean energy and opportunities for long-term operations and maintenance jobs for coastal communities.”
Brian McFarlane, head of projects, offshore development at SSE Renewables and co-chair of the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) along with Mr Wheelhouse, welcomed the publication of the documents.
He said: "I encourage all stakeholders to engage with these consultations and provide their views to help to shape the development of this critical sector for the Scottish economy.
"Both of these documents will be important in helping our pathway to net zero by achieving the deployment of at least 8GW of offshore wind in Scotland by 2030, in line with the vision of SOWEC."
Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: "These announcements set the terms for the development of Scotland's offshore wind resource, which is one of the greatest in Europe.
"The Scottish Government is to be commended for its recognition that offshore wind presents a unique economic and environmental opportunity for Scotland – on one hand to revitalise some of the country’s most rural economies and remote communities, and on the other to provide the clean power needed to meet our climate targets.
"The sites which have been identified can do that and more in the decades to come.
"Six of the sites which have been announced today – a fifth of the seabed area identified as potentially suitable – will require additional environmental evaluation before they can be developed, and the government’s commitment to a regular review of these plans as our understanding of the marine environment improves is therefore welcome.
"We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure that Scotland's full offshore wind potential is unlocked and that this sector can deliver on its promise across the country."
Both consultations will be open for a period of 14 weeks from Wednesday, December 18, 2019 until Wednesday, March 25, 2020.