When Scottish Power Renewables were considering the development of the offshore wind farm, the Argyll Array, 5km off the coast of Tiree, a number of partners came together to consider the socio-economic implications of the development; how negative impacts could be mitigated and and how the economic benefits could be realised for local communities.
Argyll and Bute Council worked in partnership with the Scottish Government, Marine Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Crown Estate and in consultation with Tiree Community Development Trust, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, Scottish Natural Heritage, NHS and Scottish Power Renewables. The intent was to examine and better understand the potential onshore implications associated with the proposed Argyll Array windfarm. Four different operation and maintenance scenarios were assessed, representing realistic options set out by Scottish Power at the time of project design. Community and stakeholder engagement was central to the process.
Whilst the Argyll Array Wind Farm is no longer being progressed the exercise was useful in helping to understand the implications of a proposed offshore development and in developing effective methods of engaging stakeholders.
Questions this practice may help answer:
- How can the range of onshore implications of offshore development (such as an offshore windfarm) be communicated?
- How can stakeholders most effectively be engaged in understanding socio-economic risks and benefits?
- What are the socio-economic risks and benefits of a large offshore wind farm?
This scenario mapping project was undertaken to inform the development of a proposed offshore windfarm, the Argyll Array, 5 km off the coast of the island of Tiree, the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland. Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) secured a lease from the Crown Estate for the Argyll Array area, following strategic planning for offshore wind in the Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters (Blue Seas - Green Energy, 2011).
As SPR developed their consent and licence applications including undertaking technical to inform the EIA process, this project was commissioned. Argyll and Bute Council with the Scottish Government, Marine Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Crown Estate commissioned a consultancy to develop a clearer understanding of the potential Operational and Maintenance (O&M) implications of any future offshore array, on Tiree.
The project sought to map the onshore implications arising from 4 O&M scenarios identified by the developer relating to the associated construction, operational and maintenance requirements of the offshore wind farm development, looking to optimise the socio economic benefit to the island and mitigate the negative consequences of each scenario.
Aspects / Objectives:
- Identify potential scenarios of onshore development associated with the proposed Argyll Array Windfarm
- With stakeholders, assess the socio-economic implications for the communities of Tiree
- Outline future steps for the development of the project, to optimise opportunities and mitigate negative effects.
Four onshore developement scenarios for operation and maintenance (O&M) were developed, based on the feasibility and design underaken to that point by SPR. These were:
Scenario 1- Onshore O&M Base An onshore base on the island (office/warehouse/yard) with up to five workboats and one helicopter accessing the array. Requires a harbour or breakwater.
Scenario 2- Offshore O&M Base (Platform) An offshore platform, located within the array, with workboats and one helicopter stationed on the platform.
Scenario 3- Offshore O&M Base (Mothership Operating from Mainland Port) Two motherships, stationed within the array, with daughter workboats and one helicopter stationed on the motherships with the mothership working from a mainland port.
Scenario 4- Onshore O&M Base / Mothership (Operating from Tiree). A combination of scenarios 1 and 3 with an arrangement based on motherships /daughter workboats working within the array, with the motherships and helicopter working from a Tiree base. Requires a harbour or breakwater.
A Communications Strategy was developed with an aim to explore with as many groups as possible the issues that the proposed Argyll Array O&M could have on the island of Tiree. The Communications Strategy for the Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping project was tailored to promote a two way communication both understanding local issues, concerns and sensitivities and providing additional evidence and technical information to inform debate.
The Scenario Mapping Study included three formal consultation events on the island of Tiree. Engagement included a range of local community members, businesses and stakeholders together with elected representatives and wider groups. Through extensive stakeholder engagement, the potential benefits, risks and concerns of local stakeholders were recorded. The study was concluded with a presentation of the key findings, Q&A session and discussion around next steps and recommendations on the 20th September 2012 at an Talla, Tiree.
Main Outputs / Results:
Each of the 4 scenarios were assessed for their socio-economic impacts, including the infrastructure requirements (e.g. construction of offices, workshops, lay-down areas, etc.), local employment (direct and indirect), population effects, with the houses required for workers and education for their children and transport implications (helicopter transfer of maintenance workers, etc.). These are presented in the report to support further consultation in relation to the development.
This study highlighted a range of measures that would address impacts and capture benefits arising from each of the potential O&M scenarios should these (or variations thereof) be taken forward to more detailed planning stages. Measures are as follows:
- Mitigation – Sensitive design of any Tiree based O&M facilities in line with local council development planning for new housing and associated community infrastructure
- Service Demand – Services e.g. healthcare, education and transport connections would be required to respond in relation to any increases in population
- Infrastructure – New Harbour/Breakwater may be required (harbour will be required for Scenarios 1&4) and should seek to capture wider benefits to the island
The study supported SPR and the Tiree Community Development Trust in development of plans for a Community Partnership Fund for community benefits from the windfarm development. It also highlighted the need for policy to address building community capacity, skills development and training in the local region.
The scenario mapping study was undertaken to inform stakeholders and the community around the potential options for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the Argyll Array. Further development would be required by SPR and others in consultation with Marine Scotland, Crown Estate and Argyll and Bute Council.
This project demonstrated proactive and in-depth stakeholder engagement, using Scenario Mapping, to involve local stakeholders in exploring the potential onshore implications of offshore development. While specific to this proposed windfarm development, and which was not constructed due to issues at the array site, it demonstrated good stakeholder engagement and a detailed example of consideration of land-sea interactions from an offshore development.
Argyll and Bute Council