Story 1: Sharing the sea in Scotland
An economic assessment of short-term options for offshore wind energy in Scottish Territorial Waters noted that all OWF sites suitable for short-term development are entirely or partially situated within spawning or nursery grounds for one or more of the commercial species. This conflict is more relevant in the East coast of Scotland, which is more developed and sea use more intensive than in the West. Consented and proposed offshore wind farms are also found mainly on the East coast. Figure 4 presents examples of the overlap of the two sectors in this area. This is an example of a spatial conflict rather than a general conflict: A 2012 survey found general attitudes of Scottish fishers to offshore wind farming to be neutral or positive
Offshore wind farm developments are a particular challenge for smaller vessels that normally operate close to coast. Impeded by the availability of capital, licenses and quota, fishers whose profit depends on areas designated for potential offshore wind farm development may not be able to operate profitably during and after construction of a wind farm.
Ambitious renewable energy targets led to ten of the offshore wind areas in Scottish Territorial Waters to be allocated zones in 2009. This was before an independent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was conducted to identify whether the sites are generally suitable. At the time, Scottish LINK (2010), a forum made up of 35 Scottish voluntary environment organisations, recommended to implement a strategy-led consenting process, including the application of Adaptive Management and a Monitor and Deploy Policy, in order to secure benefits to all interests involved.
While comprehensive integrated planning has since been put in place, the conflict is to a certain extent still ongoing, reflecting the specificities of each potential OWF development project. In just the latest example, Scottish trawling fishers operating in the Moray Firth are at risk of being displaced by a development of a new offshore wind farm. Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) are building 84 turbines about eight miles east from Caithness as part of the £2.6 billion Beatrice development. Fishers face financial losses unless they move into offshore areas, but there they would be in more competition with other larger fishing boats. They are worried about the lack of compensation for lost earnings.
To solve the problem, the developer has been continuing to liaise with the fishermen who work in and around the wind farm and export cable route construction areas to reach agreements on cooperation that are fair to both sides.