Marine Scotland has launched draft plans for new offshore wind projects to be deployed during the 2020s and beyond. Scotland’s extensive waters are well placed to contribute significantly to the Scottish Government’s net-zero climate targets and decisive action to address the climate emergency is required. Yet, offshore wind poses a risk to Scotland’s natural marine environment, especially its internationally important numbers of seabirds, through impacts such as collision and displacement from their feeding grounds.
In addition, we face a nature crises and the natural marine environment is already suffering from a range of pressures including from over-fishing and changes in sea temperatures. RSPB Scotland has actively engaged in the development of this draft plan to try and secure the safeguards that are needed for offshore wind to progress in harmony with our natural marine environment.
Anne McCall, Director, RSPB Scotland said: “In the face of the climate emergency offshore wind is set to play a big part in meeting Scotland’s net-zero emissions targets and we have been actively engaging in the development of this draft Sectoral Plan to ensure such positive action on climate change is made in harmony with nature.
“Scotland’s suite of already approved offshore wind projects are known to put at risk the country’s protected populations of seabirds including gannets, kittiwakes and puffins. Further expansion must therefore progress with caution and there is a clear need for Scottish Government and industry to urgently invest, at scale, in improving the state of our marine environment and in funding the dedicated research that is needed to more fully understand the impacts that this industry will have on Scotland’s seabird populations.
“Importantly, the draft plan buys some time by placing temporary mitigation on the east coast development options that, together, pose the greatest risk to wildlife. This is a hugely welcome and necessary opportunity provided by Scottish Government to take the concerted effort that is needed to avoid potentially catastrophic effects on our seabirds. We look forward to reviewing the draft plan, supporting the mitigation provided, including the drive for gathering more scientific data, and seeking to strengthen the protections for our fantastic marine wildlife so that action taken on the climate emergency goes hand in hand with our actions to address the biodiversity crisis.”