Spatial guidance for renewable energy


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Scotland - MSP process


Various guidance documents related to location of renewable energy infrastructure.

Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of practice: 
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer

  • Which areas present the least constraint, and are hence the most attractive for the development of renewable energy (wave, tidal and wind) in Scotland’s seas?

Implementation Context

The Scottish Government is developing plans for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy in Scottish waters. These reports are developed to support the development of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy in contributing to meeting Scotland’s target of generating the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand from renewable sources and to maximise the contribution of these technologies to achieving a low carbon economy.

Marine Scotland have developed Regional Location Guidance (RLG), to analyse data on a regional scale at higher resolution than was possible in national planning exercises, to further support the industry in understanding the potential for development, and providing them with a baseline of information upon which to investigate in more detail the ecological and social aspects of specific projects.

The guidance documents address wind, floating wind, wave and tidal energy development.

Aspects / Objectives

  • To provide detailed information in relation to previously identified areas of search for renewable energy development or find new areas;
  • To identify suitable options for inclusion in the sectoral marine planning process;
  • To inform key stakeholders and other interested parties of the key regional issues in relation to developing offshore renewable energy in Scottish Waters; and
  • To inform the process for determining marine license applications to develop offshore renewable energy in Scottish Waters.



To inform the development of guidance, Marine Scotland Science undertook an assessment of the potential renewable energy resource across the Scottish regions, along with key parameters such as baseline information on the environment and other users of the sea, and how these may change in the future. This information is presented as disaggregated data on maps within the RLG, however many layers are available on their website as data for incorporation into GIS and marine spatial planning.

Main Outputs / Results

The various RLG outputs are available online at:



The guidance documents focus specifically on the development of renewable energy in Scotland, however the development of on-line accessible tools for sharing data and supporting MSP may be of relevance in other jurisdictions.

Responsible Entity

Marine Scotland

Costs / Funding Source

Scottish Government


Contact Person

Marine Scotland Science,

Marine Laboratory
375 Victoria Road
AB11 9DB


Telephone:  01224 876544